23/01/2019 - 13:37

Wage theft inquiry announced

23/01/2019 - 13:37

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

The state government has announced an inquiry into the deliberate underpayment of wages and entitlements to employees, also known as wage theft.

Wage theft inquiry announced
The inquiry will determine whether wage theft is occurring in WA, the reasons behind it and the impact it has on workers.

The state government has announced an inquiry into the deliberate underpayment of wages and entitlements to employees, also known as wage theft.

The inquiry will determine whether wage theft is occurring in Western Australia, the reasons behind it, and the impact it has on workers and business.

Former WA Industrial Relations commissioner Tony Beech has been appointed to head the inquiry, which will begin in February.

The announcement comes after a number of cases of wage theft were reported in the state and across the country, and research that revealed the extent of wage theft nationally.

A 2018 study by the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology Sydney estimated Australian workers are losing $1 billion in wages each year because they are being underpaid by their employer.

Recent cases in WA disclosed by the Fair Work Ombudsman include commercial cleaning company Delron Cleaning, which was found to have underpaid 1,174 staff by more than $447,000, and a sushi supplier that was required to provide an employee more than $13,000 in back-pay.

The Queensland state government completed a similar inquiry in November 2018 and found wage theft amounted to $1.2 billion annually.

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said the government wanted to ensure there was a fair safety net of wages and entitlements for all workers.

“I encourage workers affected by wage theft, stakeholders and the community to get involved in the inquiry so that practical strategies can be developed to combat this issue,” he said.

UnionsWA secretary Meredith Hammat said employers who engaged in wage theft were not just making unintended mistakes, but were often also evading their obligations to provide workers compensation and superannuation.

“It is widespread but often hidden because of intimidation and because vulnerable workers are often affected - young people, those in insecure work or those born overseas, including workers with only temporary work visa rights such as students and tourists,” she said.

The report and recommendations will be provided to the government before June 2019.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options