Watchdog takes on building sector scrutiny

Commercial building and construction firms face tougher scrutiny over the under-payment of wages.

The Fair Work Ombudsman on Thursday will officially take over many of the functions of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which the Albanese government is working to abolish.

A Senate estimates committee heard on Wednesday the ABCC had recovered just over $900,000 in underpaid wages over the past year from the construction sector, while over the same period the ombudsman recovered $532 million in total from a wider range of industries.

The government has provided an extra $70 million to the ombudsman for its new functions.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said her "pretty sophisticated" underpayments team and inspectorate would scrutinise the commercial building and construction sector.

"We are anticipating having a group focused on large corporates," she said of the restructure.

The ABCC can still be contacted for advice and assistance with existing legal proceedings, unlawful pickets and building code matters.

But proposed new workplace laws will see cases transferred to the ombudsman in future.