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Wage theft laws coming into effect

Effective from 1 July 2021, wage theft laws in Victoria will come into effect.

Wage theft is when the entitlements under an employment agreement, award or other instrument are not paid by an employer. This includes the failure to make compulsory superannuation payments.

Whilst mistakes do occur, wage theft is considered to be a deliberate act where it is found that an employer has:-

  • Dishonestly withheld employee entitlements or have authorised or permitted another person to do so;
  • Falsified employee entitlement records to dishonestly gain a financial advantage;
  • Failed to keep an employee entitlement record to obtain a financial advantage.

Penalties for wage theft offenses include up to $991,320 for body corporates and up to 10 years imprisonment.

From 1 July 2020 the national minimum wage was increased to $19.84 per hour. This rate will again increase to $20.33 per hour effective from 1 July 2021. The modern awards and industrial instruments then provide the minimum wage rates plus any other entitlements that are applicable for the employees that they cover.

Examples of wage theft may include:-

  • Paying less than the minimum hourly rate;
  • Failure to pay penalty rates, overtime and allowances;
  • Unlawful deductions from wages for things like breakages, or other payments that should be covered by the employer;
  • Demanding wages be paid back in ‘cash-back’ schemes;
  • Paying employees in cash ‘under the table’; and
  • Unpaid work experience or internships.

Further, employers have an obligation to make compulsory superannuation contributions for employees who are full time, part time or casual and are:-

  • Over 18 years of age and are paid at least $450 gross in a calendar month; and
  • Under 18 years of age, who work more than 30 hours per week and are paid at $450 gross in a calendar month.

For assistance with ensuring you are meeting your obligations please contact us at [email protected] or 1300 720 004.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such

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