7.2.1 Referring matters to the Fair Work Ombudsman
The FWO's functions are to enquire into and investigate matters referred to the FWO by Centrelink under PPLAct section 143, commence proceedings in court in relation to a contravention of section 70 (which deals with unauthorised deductions from instalments) or Part 3-2 (which deals with payment of instalments by an employer), and any other function that is incidental to those functions.
Fair Work Inspector compliance powers
A Fair Work Inspector may exercise compliance powers within the meaning of the Fair Work Act 2009 for the purpose of determining whether PPLAct section 70 (which deals with unauthorised deductions from instalments) and PPLAct Part 3-2 (which deals with employer payments of instalments) are being or have been complied with.
Note: Fair Work Inspectors may exercise their compliance powers in the Fair Work Act, except for the powers under section 715 or 716 of that Act. Fair Work Act sections 715 and 716 relate to enforceable undertakings (employers cannot give enforceable undertakings relating to a breach of a civil penalty provision of the PPLAct) and giving compliance notices under the Fair Work Act (because compliance notices can be given under PPLAct section 157).
Referral to the FWO
Centrelink may refer a matter to the FWO for investigation if the Secretary or delegate has reason to believe that an employer has not complied with an obligation under section 70 (which deals with unauthorised deductions from instalments) or Part 3-2 (which deals with payment of instalments by an employer), and Centrelink believes that the employer and employee cannot resolve the matter themselves. (See paragraph 143(1)(a) and (b)).
Centrelink must advise the employer and employee in writing if the matter is referred to the FWO.
If the non-compliance relates to unauthorised deductions from instalments (section 70), when an employer pays instalments (section 72) or method of payment of instalments (section 74), Centrelink must also provide the FWO with information about when funding amounts were paid and a copy of the notice given to the employer in relation to each PPL funding amount. In any case of a referral, Centrelink must advise the FWO of action taken or information obtained in relation to the matter (paragraph 143(3)(a)).
The FWO must notify Centrelink in writing of the outcome of the investigation as soon as practicable after completing the investigation.
If the FWO gives a compliance notice to an employer, the FWO must notify Centrelink of the outcome of the compliance notice.
Act reference: PPLAct Part 4-2 Division 2 Referring matters to the Fair Work Ombudsman