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Claims By Business Groups That Wage Theft Is ‘innocent’ Are Nonsense

Claims by business groups that wage theft is ‘innocent’ are nonsense

Claims by business groups that wage theft is ‘innocent’ are nonsense, according to industrial advocates.

Business lobby groups continually claim that underpayments are not deliberate, but rather happen as a result of ‘innocent’ mistakes by employers.

Miles Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims says:

“Claim that underpayments happen because employers don’t understand modern awards are rubbish. 

“In most cases, wage theft is deliberate and systematic in industries like hospitality, retail and also fast food.

“In fact, for some it is a business model.”

Claims by business groups – nonsense

Mr Heffernan’s comments follow the Fair Work Ombudsman’s recent raids on 489 businesses in Woollongong, Ballarat and also Albury-Wodonga.

As a result of the audits, inspectors found almost half failed to pay their workers proper wages and penalty rates.

Fair Work subsequently recovered a total of $331,386 for 725 workers.

Wollongong is one of the areas targeted by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Criminal offence

“You cannot tell me that more than 200 business owners ripped off their workers because they didn’t know how to pay wages properly,” Mr Heffernan said.

“If they can’t figure that out, then they shouldn’t be in business,” he added.

“Like all other forms of theft, wage theft should be a criminal offence.

“Those who steal money from their workers should face criminal sanctions, including convictions and jail sentences.”


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Penalties already tough enough

Innes Willox, boss of the Australian Industry Group, is the leading voice arguing against the introduction of tougher penalties for wage theft.

“While at first glance, this might seem like a good idea, there are many reasons why this is not in anyone’s interests,’’ he said.

“Implementing criminal penalties for wage underpayments will discourage investment, entrepreneurship, in addition to employment growth.

“Penalties for breaches of industrial laws were recently increased by up to 20 times and this already provides an effective deterrent.”

Innes Willox – Australian Industry Group  (Picture: AAP Mick Tsikas)

‘What utter bullshit!’

Mr Heffernan scoffed at that suggestion.

“What utter bullshit!” he said. 

“If current penalties are providing an effective deterrent, as Mr Willox claims, then perhaps he can explain why wage theft is rife in so many industries.

“Fair Work’s latest audit found more than half of businesses failed to pay proper wages and entitlements.

“Furthermore, there is not one scrap of evidence supporting Mr Willox’s outrageous and ridiculous assertions that criminal penalties will discourage investment, entrepreneurship and employment growth.

“Where is his evidence for making such a bogus claim?

“Remember, Mr Willox is the same bloke who said cutting weekend penalty rates would result in increased jobs and economic growth.

“Two years on, he’s been proven wrong on that.

“We now know that not one new job has been created by cutting weekend penalty rates.

“And as for economic growth increasing over the period, we have seen the opposite – it has slowed down.

“I bet Mr Willox doesn’t have his wages stolen, therefore, why does he expect other workers to put up with it?”


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1300 045 466

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