WNA Blog



Tue 13 Oct 2020

Wage Underpayment Punishable

Human Resources and Career Advice
The Queensland and Victorian Government has passed legislation making it a criminal offence for employers to knowingly underpay their staff.

Stealing is wrong, and yet every year thousands of Australian workers are robbed.  Wage theft, through employers deliberately underpaying workers and refusing to pay mandatory superannuation, is affecting thousands of workers every year.

It is employers stealing money from workers pockets.

Directors and business owners can face jail time. 

Employers almost never deliberately underpay. Whenever we have identified payment issues it has always been due to the complexity of the system, or at worst, a lack of attention or oversight. 

On 16 June 2020 the Victorian Parliament passed Australia’s first laws on wage theft, the Wage Theft Bill 2020, which creates a criminal offence for underpayment of employee wages and entitlements by employers.

What You Need to Know 

  • Workers, or a Union on behalf of a worker, can initiate the process by making a complaint to Queensland Police. 
  • The process involves conciliation for cases up to $20,000. 
  • Workers, or a Union on behalf of a worker, can initiate a civil claim instead, through a new Industrial Magistrates Court if they choose. 

Be Confident You Are Paying Correctly

The HR People can give you advice about whether you are paying wages in accordance with the relevant modern award or enterprise agreement correctly, and demonstrate that your business has not knowingly underpaid staff even if a mistake is made.  

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