The Queensland Government introduced legislation in September which criminalises wage theft and penalises employers who intentionally steal from their employees.
The legislation amends the Criminal Code to include a new section which states that employers will be criminally liable if they intentionally steal wages or deprive staff of their entitlements. The legislation will not apply to employers who act honestly and seek to rectify any accidental underpayment when it is identified.
Under the legislation, a broad range of payments and entitlements are classed as being able to be stolen from employees such as unpaid or underpaid hours, unpaid penalty rates, unpaid superannuation and unreasonable deductions. The Queensland Police Service will investigate claims of wage theft and if employers are found to have been stealing from employees, they will be liable for up to 10 years imprisonment.
The new legislation also amends the Industrial Relations Act 2016 and introduces a small claims process in the Industrial Magistrates Court. The process is intended to provide a timely and inexpensive resolution function for employees to recover underpayments of up to $20,000.00.
Contact our office for advice if you believe that your wages or entitlements are being paid incorrectly or are an employer who wishes to review your employment contracts and entitlements to ensure that you are meeting your obligations properly.