National Farmers' Federation

Ombudsman launches worrying ‘spy on your boss’ app

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is alarmed at an initiative of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) that will undermine trust between employers and employees.
The FWO this week formally launched a “record my hours” app which encourages employees to record their work activities and send their records to their “preferred representative”. The app includes GPS tracking and an in built camera feature to assist employees build an evidence case against their employers.
NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said it was concerning the FWO, through the development of this app, was pitting workers against their bosses and effectively questioning the integrity of all Australian employers.
“One of the FWO’s primary functions is to promote harmonious and cooperative workplace relations.
“Encouraging employees to spy on their bosses and email confidential information, electronic records and photos to the union or the Ombudsman is hardly consistent with this function.
“Nor does it seem an appropriate role for a government regulator to play. While we support the Fair Work Ombudsman’s role in ensuring compliance with workplace laws, this needs to be done in a way that encourages productive workplaces, not undermines them.
Mr Mahar said it was disappointing employers were not consulted in the development stage of the app.
“There are plenty of ‘working-hours’ apps already available that do not use electronic surveillance without employer consent.
“We understand the app was in development for six months in consultation with employees yet at no time were employers engaged.”
Mr Mahar said agricultural employers were not aware of the app until the NFF was made aware of its existence at which time the NFF immediately requested more information about the app’s functions and role.
“Given this lack of consultation and transparency we call on Employment Minister Cash to intervene and ask the FWO to withdraw the app immediately pending urgent consultation with the business community,” Mr Mahar said.

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