New wage theft laws could land dodgy bosses in jail

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Originally published via The Courier Mail

Wage theft will soon be a crime in Queensland with the Palaszczuk Government to bring in a new offence that could land employers caught deliberately ripping off their staff in jail.

The Government will table its response to the parliamentary wage theft inquiry today (correct, Friday) and The Courier-Mail can reveal it has accepted all 17 recommendations including a new wage theft offence.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace will also push for a similar offence to be brought in federally to ensure all employees are protected.

“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,” Ms Grace said.

“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.”

The wage theft inquiry, called by the Palaszczuk Government last year, found one in four Queensland workers in industries as diverse as hospitality, security, trades, child care and fruit and vegetable picking were missing out on penalty rates, being paid less than the correct hourly rate, unfairly being docked pay or being exploited through unpaid work trials.

It found they were being ripped off to the tune of $1.2 billion a year.

Another $1.1 billion in superannuation was also going unpaid, it found.

The Victorian Labor Government has committed to bringing in a similar wage theft offence as has NSW Labor should it win the looming election.

Academics have questioned whether such offences would stand up to constitutional challenge if found to be inconsistent with Federal law.

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