Employers who underpay their workers will be forced to ‘name and shame’ themselves.
The idea is part of a new government proposal designed to tackle the problem of wage theft, which experts say is endemic in many industries.
Employers who underpay workers to ‘name and shame’ themselves
The plan will require employers caught underpaying workers to display public signs admitting the wage theft.
It will also require them to publish notices online and in newspapers.
Furthermore, businesses that fail to prevent underpayments will face bans from hiring migrant workers.
Finally, company , and company directors disqualified from holding office.
Criminal penalties for employers who underpay workers
Attorney-General Christian Porter says the government also plans to introduce criminal penalties with “significant jail terms and fines”.
“More still needs to be done to motivate companies to improve their performance, such as disqualifying directors of organisations that continue to get it wrong.”
Government ‘appalled’ by extent of wage theft
The recent string of wage theft scandals has “appalled” the government, according to Porter.
He therefore vowed to ensure “corporate Australia lifts its game when it comes to paying its workers properly”.
Meanwhile, professional services firm PwC has estimated 13 per cent of Australian workers are underpaid a total of $1.35 billion a year.
A growing shame file lists employers have admitted to underpaying workers, for example:
- the ABC,
- Super Retail Group,
- Commonwealth Bank,
- Rockpool Dining Group,
- Sunglass Hut,
- George Calombaris’ hospitality group MAdE,
- and now also Coles.
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Most wage theft ‘not deliberate’
Despite this, Porter insists that the “vast majority” of wage theft is unintentional.
However, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan scoffed at that suggestion.
“The Attorney-General is dreaming if he thinks wage theft is unintentional,” he said.
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