The Office of Industrial Relations has provided an update on the new process in the Industrial Magistrates Court for the hearing of wage recovery claims.
The new process commenced on 1 March 2021 following the passage of the Criminal Code and Other Legislation (Wage Theft) Amendment Act 2020 (the Act).
It is aimed at hearing claims for unpaid workers’ entitlements in a way that is simple, quick and low-cost. The process also offers referral to conciliation, with an experienced industrial commissioner in the first instance, giving parties the opportunity to resolve the matter without going to hearing.
The Industrial Magistrates Court is using a simplified process for small claims of up to $20,000 for workers in the national system and $50,000 for workers in the Queensland state system. The simplified process allows the court to dispense with the rules of evidence and conduct proceedings informally.
Workers seeking to make a wage recovery claim in the Industrial Magistrates Court must complete the applicable form, available from the Industrial Registry. There is no fee for filing a wage recovery claim in the Industrial Magistrates Court and the form can be lodged online.
The Act also criminalised deliberate wage theft. Workers who believe that they are a victim of intentional underpayment by an employer may report the conduct to the Queensland Police Service using their wage theft report form. To successfully charge an employer with the offence of stealing, the employer must be shown to have intentionally withheld an employee’s entitlements. Provisions of the Criminal Code relevant to wage theft include sections 391, 398, 408C and 430.
The Office of Industrial Relations has thanked Queensland Law Society and its members for advocating for good law in the realm of workplace entitlements, including the submission that QLS provided to the parliamentary inquiry into wage theft in Queensland.