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Wage theft" criminalised in Queensland and Victoria... and similar plans for the rest of Australia

On 14 September 2020 the Queensland Parliament passed the Criminal Code and Other Legislation (Wage Theft) Amendment Act 2020 (Qld), which amends the Queensland Criminal Code to enable wage theft to be treated the same as other forms of stealing, with employers who intentionally underpay their employees now exposed to a criminal penalty of up to ten years’ imprisonment.


This followed the passing of similar legislation in Victoria, which means that wage theft will be a criminal offence in that State from 1 July 2021.


On a similar theme, the Federal Fair Work Amendments Bill proposes to introduce a criminal offence for an employer who dishonestly engages in the systematic underpayment of employees with a maximum penalty of four years in prison (with fines of up to $5.55m fine for a corporation and up to $1.11m for individuals).


It is critical that employers ensure their payroll is correct & the people charged with the responsibility of processing the payroll have the skill & knowledge to do so.