Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace

July 16, 2020

A Bill to criminalise wage theft has been introduced into the State Parliament, targeting employers who commit serious and deliberate wage theft.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said “dodgy employers” who deliberately and wilfully ripped off their workers would face tough criminal penalties – including up to 10 years’ jail for stealing and 14 years for fraud.

She said wage theft took many forms, including underpayment, unpaid superannuation and penalty rates, unauthorised deductions from pay, the misuse of ABNs and sham contracting.

“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,” Minister Grace said.

“Sadly almost 25 per cent of Queensland workers aren’t getting what they’re entitled to.

“For years employees have faced specific criminal charges for stealing from their bosses.

“These proposed laws would mean those offences would also apply for employers stealing from their workers.”

To support Queenslanders who are underpaid by their employer, a streamlined small claims process will be set up.

This will include Queensland Industrial Relations Commissioners conducting conciliation prior to a court hearing.

“The new system is much simpler and less costly for workers trying to recover their entitlements,” Ms Grace said.

“Previously many ripped off workers had simply given up because the process was too complex and time-consuming.

“The threat of tough criminal charges for deliberate wage theft, together with the new streamlined process for recovering underpayment, will provide a strong incentive for employers in Queensland to do the right thing and pay workers their full legal entitlements.”

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