Government supports making wage theft a criminal offence

Published:

Employers found to be deliberately or recklessly engaging in wage theft could find themselves in jail, after the Palaszczuk Government accepted in principle making wage theft a criminal offence following a Parliamentary Inquiry.

The Palaszczuk Government has tabled its response to the parliament’s Education, Employment and Small Business committee inquiry into wage theft in Queensland.  (Friday 15 Feb)

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said her government was doing everything it could do at a state level and again urged Scott Morrison and the Federal Government to take action to address wage theft on a national level.

“Protecting workers is in the Palaszczuk Government’s DNA and that’s why we asked the committee to conduct this inquiry to fill the vacuum left by a federal Government asleep at the wheel,” Ms Grace said.

“In its report, the committee made 17 recommendations aimed at eliminating wage theft and ensuring workers get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and the government has accepted, or accepted in principle, all of the recommendations.

“Six of the recommendations are within the Queensland Government’s jurisdiction and deal with providing better public information and education, ensuring our procurement policies allow for action to the taken against employers that have underpaid workers and taking action to ensure that wage recovery processes for Queensland workers are simple, quick and low-cost.

“The Committee also recommended that wage theft in deliberate or reckless cases be criminalised at a state level, a move supported by many stakeholders from both employers and unions who appeared before the Inquiry.

“The Palaszczuk Government will consult with stakeholders to determine the best way to make good on this recommendation. Just as we did with Labour Hire Licensing, we will consider what we can do at the state level, but these are predominantly matters in the federal jurisdiction.

“Eleven of the 17 recommendations made in the report are matters for the Federal Government to consider. It’s time for Scott Morrison to show some leadership and take action.”

In recent years there have been a number of high-profile cases of wage theft, such as 7-Eleven, but the committee heard evidence that wage theft was taking place across a wide cross-section of the Queensland economy, including the security, hospitality, transport, construction and childcare industries.

Of particular concern were findings by the Fair Work Ombudsman that 49 percent of hospitality employers state-wide, and 60 percent in Fortitude Valley, were not paying the correct wages.

Ms Grace said wage theft took many forms, including the underpayment of wages, unpaid super, unpaid penalty rates, unauthorised deductions from pays, unpaid work trials, the misuse of ABNs and sham contracting.

“Compounding the problem is that the federal regulator does not have the resources to do the job properly and workers often feel powerless to reclaim their lost entitlements,” she said.

“The inquiry found that wage theft is affecting around 437,000, or one-in-five, Queensland workers and costing more than $1 billion every year. That’s $1 billion that’s missing from family budgets and that doesn’t flow to local businesses and the wider economy.

“The inquiry also found the annual loss associated with the underpayment or non-payment of superannuation was estimated at $1.12 billion.

The committee received 49 submissions from employer organisations, unions, law firms, and community organisations. Submissions were frequently of very high quality, and outlined a number of practical options for reform at both the state and Commonwealth levels

The committee heard evidence from 100 individuals at 24 hearings in Brisbane and regional Queensland. 360 workers also responded to an online survey asking for accounts of recent and historical wage theft from the public.

Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
The Honourable Grace Grace

 
Business Business & Economy Employment & Training Law & Safety Money & Finance Political Queensland Government
Social:   

Queensland Government : Employment and Industrial Relations :
Queensland Wide
13 74 68
Queensland Government : Employment and Industrial Relations
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
Christmas Eve part-day public holiday becomes a reality 28 November 2019 | The Palaszczuk Government has passed legislation to establish a part-day public holiday on Christmas Eve, starting this year. More information...
Asbestos: tough action to continue 27 November 2019 | The Palaszczuk Government has vowed to continue to raise awareness around asbestos safety.   More information...
First prosecution under Queensland’s pioneering industrial manslaughter laws 25 October 2019 | In a first for Queensland, the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor has commenced a prosecution against Brisbane Auto Recycling Pty Ltd for industrial manslaughter under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. More information...
More support for vulnerable workers on the way 22 October 2019 | Amendments to workers’ compensation laws to improve support for vulnerable workers have passed Parliament today. More information...
More successful prosecutions under Queensland’s labour hire laws 18 October 2019 | Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has issued a warning to Queensland’s labour hire operators, following another three successful prosecutions in the Caboolture Magistrates Court this week. More information...
Queensland safe work and return to work champions celebrated 09 October 2019 | Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has congratulated Queensland’s 2019 Safe Work and Return to Work Awards winners at a ceremony in Brisbane. More information...
Ambassador Libby speaks out for Mental Health Week 03 October 2019 | Like she did in the pool during her illustrious swimming career, Queensland Mental Health Ambassador Libby Trickett is looking for ‘PBs’ heading into Mental Health Week (5-13 October). More information...
Young Queenslanders highlight farm safety messages 19 September 2019 | The works of a dozen talented Queensland primary school students will once again showcase important farm safety messages in a colourful calendar that’s become a must-have household favourite. More information...
Government finalises new code in battle against silicosis 18 September 2019 | Queensland will introduce Australia’s first Code of Practice for the stone benchtop industry, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace announced today. More information...
New research to support workers diagnosed with silicosis 22 August 2019 | WorkCover Queensland has engaged two leading universities to undertake important research on how to best support workers who have been diagnosed with silicosis, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace announced... More information...


comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service