Real estate agency principals will be targeted by the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure they are paying their staff their full entitlements, including minimum pay and penalty rates.
The two-month campaign, which will focus on 350 real estate agencies in NSW, is being conducted in response to concerns raised by key industry stakeholders that some employers are not complying with pay obligations to salespeople who receive commissions, Fair Work ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said.
The probe follows an education program on workplace laws that were promoted to real estate agencies throughout NSW in the second half of last year, Fair Work said.
Fair Work said it has selected 120 real estate agents in metropolitan Sydney and 230 in regional NSW for audit.
Areas of Sydney included in the campaign are Blacktown, Bondi, Bronte, Burwood, Camden, Campbelltown, Caringbah, Carlton, Castle Hill, the CBD, Chatswood, Hurstville, Ingleburn, Leichhardt, Liverpool, Manly, Maroubra, Miranda, North Sydney, Padstow, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Macquarie, Potts Point, Pyrmont, Randwick, Rockdale, Strathfield, Sutherland and Thornleigh.
Regional areas include Dubbo, Gosford, Newcastle, Lismore, Nelson Bay, Nowra, Orange, Terrigal, The Entrance and Wollongong.
“Fair Work inspectors will check that agencies are paying employees correctly, with a particular focus on ensuring salespeople paid on a commission-only or part-commission basis are receiving their full entitlements,” the organisation said.
“Inspectors will also check that reception and administrative staff are being paid their full entitlements, including minimum pay rates and penalty rates.”
Douglas Driscoll, CEO at NSW-based Starr Partners, said he had no problem with the Fair Work Ombudsman launching this type of probe, as employees were entitled to know they were being paid correctly.
“There’s certainly no harm in doing this,” he told Real Estate Business.
He said it was unlikely real estate principals deliberately underpaid their staff. More often than not, it was more the case they were too caught up in day-to-day business activities or didn’t know what the correct entitlements were.
For instance, he said the rules relating to commission-only remuneration were extremely detailed, and many principals may not be aware of some of these requirements, which included an age limit.
Mr Driscoll added that human resources (HR) management was becoming an increasingly important issue for real estate principals.
Mr Wilson said employers will also be made aware of the free resources available to real estate principals that assist with understanding workplace laws.
“The campaign will also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws because our auditing of compliance with minimum pay rates will help to ensure businesses are competing on a level playing field,” he said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman said its website - www.fairwork.gov.au - has a number of tools and resources, including PayCheck Plus and an Award Finder, to assist business-owners calculate the correct pay for their employees.
Free documentation is available online for employers to use when hiring, managing and dismissing staff, including letters of engagement and probation, timesheet and pay slip templates, leave application forms, a self-audit check list and workplace complaint form.