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Promised Wage Theft Bill ‘well Advanced’ Says Porter

Promised wage theft bill ‘well advanced’ says Porter

Christian Porter says his promised wage theft bill is ‘well advanced’ pledging to have it in parliament before the budget.

The Attorney-General committed to do something about Australia’s wage theft epidemic following a number of high profile cases.

Promised wage theft bill will include criminal penalties

Porter said he has taken into account submissions made by unions and employer groups in drafting the bill.

The legislation will include criminal penalties for serious cases of underpayments, despite employer groups objections.

Unions are calling for criminal sanctions for accidental underpayment of staff that is the result of “reckless” conduct.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Porter said:

“We think that because of the seriousness of the criminal penalties that would apply to this offence, the mental element has to be clear, discernible and demonstrate a level of culpability on the part of the person who will be accused and prosecuted.

“The type of penalties that we intend to attach to this criminal behaviour are not the sort of penalties that generally apply to merely reckless behaviour.”


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Company directors in the gun

Porter, who is also Industrial Relations Minister, warns company directors they might be responsible for wage theft happening on their watch.

He told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age:

“I think the degree of responsibility at the moment isn’t direct enough.”

Porter noted the amount of money companies spend on advertising and marketing, while neglecting computer systems that ensure correct staff payments. 

In addition to the criminal penalties, Porter also suggested a greater role for Fair Work to help small businesses understand modern awards.


WHAT IS WAGE THEFT?


Penalties are long overdue

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Fair Work Claims said the legislation is “long overdue”.

“How many celebrity chefs and supermarkets and retailers has it taken for the government to finally do something?” he asked.

“Wage theft is in epidemic proportions right around Australia and the workplace watchdog is useless at stopping it.

“When the authorities start locking up bosses, I believe we will see a noticeable downturn in wage theft.”

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Fair Work Claims is a private consultancy and advocacy firm with no affiliation to any government agency, commission or tribunal.

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