IR Claims welcomes the re-elected Victorian Labor government fulfilling its commitment to introduce criminal penalties for wage theft.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says wage theft is rife in many industries.
For example, hospitality, retail and fast food.
“Daniel Andrews described his government as the most progressive in Australia,” he said.
“It will therefore be great to see Victoria be the first state to introduce criminal penalties for greedy bosses who rip off their workers.”
Criminal penalties for wage theft
Under Labor’s proposal, employers will face a maximum jail term of 10 years.
In addition, businesses will be penalised up to $950,000 for failing to pay proper award rates including penalties and overtime, superannuation.
The same monetary penalties will also apply to employers who fail to keep proper paperwork, issue pay slips or falsify payment records.
Furthermore, the legal process to recover wages will be fast tracked, with cases heard within 30 days.
A new agency called the Victoria Wage Inspectorate will enforce the new laws.
The inspectorate will be charged with enforcing:
- the Long Service Leave Act;
- child labour laws; and also
- sham contracting.
A key part of its role will also involve targeted education campaigns.
Wage theft costs billions
A recent Queensland parliamentary inquiry found one in five workers in that state are not being paid proper wages and entitlements.
Recent research estimates that wage theft costs the economy $5.1 billion annually.
The inquiry made 17 recommendations to government, including the introduction of criminal penalties.
What the experts say
Mr Heffernan from IR Claims has helped hundreds of workers recover more than a million dollars in stolen wages.
“It’s been too easy for too long for greedy bosses to steal from their workers and get away with it,” he said.
“I think when employers start getting criminal convictions and jail sentences, many will start thinking twice before underpaying their staff.”
Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on