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Queensland Wage Theft Inquiry Makes 17 Recommendations

Queensland wage theft inquiry makes 17 recommendations

A parliamentary inquiry into wage theft in Queensland has made 17 recommendations to help address the problem in the state, including the introduction of criminal penalties.

The report, by the Education, Employment and Small Business Committee, found that 437,000 workers were not being paid proper wages, costing the Queensland economy $2.5 billion every year.

Wage theft costing Queensland workers billions

Committee Chair, Leanne Linard MP, said the committee overwhelmingly heard wage theft was imposing significant costs on Queensland workers, their families, businesses and the economy.

“Our report reveals that wage theft is costing Queensland workers up to $1.22 billion in lost wages and $1.12 billion in lost superannuation every year,” she said.

“Combined with an estimated $100 million reduction in consumer spending and $60 million in lost federal tax revenue, the overall economic loss could amount to almost $2.5 billion stripped from the Queensland economy every year.”

Wide ranging recommendations

The committee made a total of 17 recommendations including:

  • making ‘deliberate and reckless’ wage theft a criminal offence, with offenders facing convictions or even jail sentences.
  • the Federal government to immediately appoint more Fair Work inspectors to add to the 38 who currently police wage theft in the state, as well as appointing more Federal Circuit Court judges to hear cases of wage theft – currently there are just two in Queensland.
  • the government to consider using the local Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to hear cases of wage theft, which would make claims quicker cheaper and easier for victims.
  • waiving court fees for workers who take legal action to try and recover lost wages.
  • launching a public education campaign to make the community aware of the devastating effects of wage theft, in addition to education programs in schools, TAFEs and universities to teach young people about their workplace rights.

The report into wage theft in Queensland by the Education, Employment and Small Business Committee.

Report praised

Industrial relations advocate Miles Heffernan, from Industrial Relations Claims, who gave direct evidence to the inquiry, praised the report and its recommendations – many of which were included in his submission.

“This was not some sort of once over lightly job – the committee has taken this issue extremely seriously, and made some sensible and practical recommendations,” he said.

“If the government is able to implement most of the recommendations, it will go a long way to reducing the incidence of wage theft in Queensland.

“We look forward to some positive action from the government to ensure that hard working Queenslanders are protected from greedy bosses who want to rip them off.”

Miles Heffernan giving evidence to the inquiry with four of his clients who are victims of wage theft.

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