It assessed tendering and procurement activities for cleaning services across eight major shopping centres in NSW, SA, Queensland, and Victoria.
Inspectors checked the books of 578 cleaning contractors as part of the national campaign and discovered 1212 employees were underpaid, including young workers, overseas workers, and students.
A total of 141 businesses were required to back pay staff amounts ranging from as little as $30 up to $50,000. The largest underpayments were recorded in Victoria, where 36 businesses were required to reimburse 268 cleaners a total of $246,206, while in NSW 40 employers back paid 294 employees $215,278.
Sixty two per cent, or 356 of the 578 cleaning businesses scrutinised, were found to be fully compliant with their workplace obligations. The remaining employers were found to be either underpaying staff, had record keeping or payslip contraventions or both.
Three businesses entered into Enforceable Undertakings as an alternative to litigation. Eight others received a Letter of Caution.
The latest data indicates there are almost 25,000 businesses operating in the cleaning services industry in Australia employing almost 100,000 workers.
Cleaning contractors face ongoing spot checks to detect and deter deliberate non compliance with federal workplace laws.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, says the findings indicate a need for many cleaning contractors to pay greater attention to wage rates.
James says it was disappointing to find ongoing underpayment in the cleaning industry, but pleasing that all employers rectified non-compliance issues and accepted assistance to remedy their mistakes.