Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace

September 9, 2020

Employers found to be deliberately stealing from their workers will now face jail under new laws passed in State Parliament on Wednesday.

“Wage theft affects one in four Queensland workers,” Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said. 

“And it takes $2.2 billion dollars out of Queensland workers’ pockets each year in unpaid wages and superannuation.”

Ms Grace said under the new laws, the maximum penalty for stealing by an employer will be the same as the current maximum penalty for “stealing as a clerk or servant”, ie. 10 years’ jail.

“These new laws recognise that the current framework is not doing the job; something needs to change to stop rampant wage theft,” Minister Grace said.

“Stronger penalty and deterrence measures are needed for those who commit wage theft, particularly where it is deliberate and systematic and part of an employer’s business model.”

The new laws follow a 2018 inquiry which found that wage theft was widespread in Queensland, affecting about 437,000 workers – approximately one in five – each year and costing more than $1 billion a year in unpaid or underpaid wages.

As well, it heard the annual loss associated with the underpayment or non-payment of superannuation was estimated at $1.12 billion.

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