New legislation to make wage theft a crime

New legislation designed to criminalise wage theft was introduced in Queensland Parliament today.

Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said wage theft took many forms, including the underpayment of wages, unpaid superannuation, unpaid penalty rates, unauthorised deductions from pays, the misuse of ABNs and sham contracting.

She said the new legislation introduced in the Criminal Code and Other Offences (Wage Theft) Amendment Bill 2020 would create a simple, quick and low-cost wage recovery process for Queenslanders who suffered underpayment of their wages.

“Your pay deserves to stay in your pocket,” Ms Grace said. “And during this COVID-19 global recession, we know every dollar counts.

“More than $1.2 billion is syphoned out of workers’ pay packets each year in unpaid or underpaid wages and around $1.1 billion in underpayment of superannuation.

“Sadly almost 25% of Queensland workers aren’t getting what they’re entitled to – they’ve had enough and frankly so have we.”


She said the Government would come down hard on dodgy employers with tough criminal penalties for those who deliberately and wilfully rip-off their workers.

“For years employees have faced specific criminal charges for stealing from their bosses,” Ms Grace said. “These proposed laws would mean those offences would also apply for employers stealing from their workers.

“Employers who commit wage theft face up to 10 years’ jail for stealing and 14 years for fraud under amendments to the Criminal Code.”

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