Wage theft is now a criminal offence in Queensland, after parliament passed new laws recently.
Borne from a Parliamentary inquiry, Queensland’s Industrial Relations Minister, Grace Grace has said, “…These new laws are designed to deter employers who are deliberately (and sometimes systemically) committing wage theft.” By reclassifying wage theft as a criminal act, much harsher penalties can now be expected including:
– Wage theft offences for employers: up to 10 years jail
– Wage theft offences for corporations: up to 10 years jail + Fines up to $991,320
The criminalisation of these offences allows employees to pursue unpaid wages of up to $20,000 in the Industrial Magistrates Court, making it easier and quick to recoup unpaid monies. Considering Queensland workers, collectively, lose $2.2billion each year in unpaid wages and superannuation.
Employers should seek to regularly review their wage rates and classifications to reduce the risk of underpayments, as well as seek the advice of experts where they are unsure of their obligations. Awards and agreements can be complex and need to be well understood.
Don’t forget, many awards will have a Federal Minimum Wage increase come November too!
If you need to review your employee payments, get in touch with our Workplace Partners ASAP.
*This is general information only and doesn’t take your specific circumstances into account.