Criminalisation of wage theft likely to backfire, say experts

Professor John Howe from the University of Melbourne.

Do we need proof of the unfair bias in our laws when an indigenous Australian can be jailed for the theft of a Mars Bar and his employer can’t be charged fo underpaying him? (ODT)

“The Fair Work Act contains very hefty civil penalties for wage underpayments. The penalties were increased by up to 20 times last year,” he said. “Therefore, any view that the previous penalties were not tough enough has already been very comprehensively addressed.

“Any civil case relating to back-pay would be put on hold by the Courts until the criminal case is heard and determined. Therefore, workers would be waiting years for back-pay.”

Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the existing legal regime has failed to prevent underpayment of workers in low paid industries such as hospitality.

“The new laws will be drafted carefully to address any potential constitutional inconsistency issues,” he said.

via Criminalisation of wage theft likely to backfire, say experts