Member for Nudgee Leanne Linard MP welcomes support for making wage theft a criminal office

Member for Nudgee Leanne Linard MP has welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s support for criminalising deliberate or reckless cases of wage theft.

As chair of the Queensland Parliament’s Education, Employment and Small Business committee, Ms Linard was tasked with chairing an inquiry into wage theft in Queensland which took place across the state last year.

“Wage theft takes many forms, including the underpayment of wages, unpaid super, unpaid penalty rates, unauthorised deductions from pays, unpaid work trials, the misuse of ABNs and sham contracting,” Ms Linard said.

“Making the problem worse is that the majority of workers are covered by the federal industrial relations system, but the federal regulator does not have the resources to do their job properly, leaving workers feeling powerless to reclaim their lost entitlement.

“In recent years there have been a number of high-profile cases of wage theft, such as 7-Eleven.

“The committee heard evidence that wage theft was taking place across a wide cross-section of the Queensland economy, including the security, hospitality, transport, construction and childcare industries.”

The inquiry found that wage theft is affecting around 437,000, or one-in-five, Queensland workers and costing more than $1 billion every year. That’s $1 billion that’s missing from family budgets and that doesn’t flow to local businesses and the wider economy.

The inquiry also found the annual loss associated with the underpayment or non-payment of superannuation was estimated at $1.12 billion.

Ms Linard said the committee made 17 recommendations aimed at eliminating wage theft and ensuring workers get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

“The Palaszczuk Government has accepted, or accepted in principle, all of the recommendations,” she said.

“Six of the recommendations are within the Queensland Government’s jurisdiction and deal with providing better public information and education, ensuring our procurement policies allow for action to the taken against employers that have underpaid workers and taking action to ensure that wage recovery processes for Queensland workers are simple, quick and low-cost.

“The Committee also recommended that cases of wage theft that are found to be deliberate or reckless be criminalised at a state level, a move supported by many stakeholders from both employers and unions who appeared before the Inquiry.

“Eleven of the 17 recommendations made in the report are matters for the Federal Government to consider. It’s time for Scott Morrison to show some leadership and take action.”

Media contact: Nudgee Electorate Office (3638 7100)

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