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What is wage theft?

Wage theft happens when your employer doesn’t pay you the minimum monetary amount, or allowances and entitlements that are outlined in the Enterprise Agreement or Modern Award that you work under, and that includes compulsory superannuation.

It can happen by mistake, but in many instances, wage theft is a deliberate action taken by your boss to steal money that you are rightly and lawfully entitled to.


Different forms of wage theft

There are many different ways employers steal wages and entitlements from their employees.

They include:

  • paying less than the minimum hourly rate
  • failure to pay penalty rates, overtime and allowances
  • taking inappropriate deductions from wages
  • refusing to allow leave
  • demanding wages be paid back in “cash-back” schemes
  • paying employees in cash “off the books”
  • unpaid work experience or internships

Find My Award

Different jobs in different industries have different minimum pay rates and allowances and entitlements.

The specific wages and entitlements that you are eligible for depends on your age, the state you live in, the industry you work in, your qualifications and your duties and responsibilities.

To check which award applies to your job, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website and use the Find My Award tool.


The national minimum wage

As of 1 July 2022, the national minimum wage is $21.38 per hour or $812.60 for a 38-hour week.

Casual employees get at least a 25 percent loading on top of that.


Unpaid superannuation

Unpaid superannuation can cost workers big time.

Not only do you not receive the money from the regular contribution, but you also miss out on the interest that money would have made while it sits in your super account.

This can make an enormous difference to the balance of your superannuation account by the time that you retire.

From 1 July 2022, your boss has to pay you a super contribution of 10.5 percent no matter how much you earn.

However, if you are under 18 years-old and work less than 30 hours per week, you will need to be paid at least $450 in salary or wages before tax in a calendar month to receive super contributions.

It doesn’t matter if you work part time, full time or casual.

You may also be eligible for super if you are a contractor working and being paid primarily for labour.

If you are covered by a Modern Award, we can help you recover unpaid super by taking immediate legal action on your behalf.

In addition, we can also help you recover any interest or gains on your super that you have missed out on.


Wage theft now a crime

Wage theft is now a crime in Queensland and Victoria, with Western Australia also hoping to pass similar laws in the near future.

As a result, we can now take immediate action in the Industrial Magistrates Court to recover wages and entitlements for our clients.

We can also take action in other courts for amounts higher than that.

Our team at Industrial Relations Claims has an intimate knowledge of Modern Awards, including overtime, penalty rates, loadings, allowances and entitlements.

We will ensure that we will recover every last cent that you are owed.


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LAST UPDATED: June 2022

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