Federal Labor comprehensively rejects calls for an amnesty for any corporate sector from wage theft claims.

Workers must be paid what they are owed under Australian law. It is incumbent upon employers, of any size, to ensure they understand their obligations under the Fair Work Act.

Attempts to blame the award system for recent examples of wage theft are pathetic. The award system has been with us for generations - it is not a recent invention. It is simply not good enough for employers to take seriously their compliance with tax laws, planning laws, health and hygiene laws and then disregard legal obligations to their own workers. Wage theft is employer lawlessness - nothing less.

While there have been a number of high-profile breaches, wage theft is limited to a minority of employers. The majority of employers do the right thing.

It is appropriate that sectors where a number of breaches have occurred – such as hospitality – are facing increased scrutiny.

Scott Morrison and Christian Porter’s current attack on the union movement via the so-called Ensuring Integrity Bill will only lead to more wage theft as unions spend increasing time and resources tied up in red tape, paperwork and defending themselves against vexatious legal action rather than working to ensure their members are paid properly.

Denying workers the pay that they have rightfully earned is a serious matter, and workers who bring claims of wage theft should be supported and their claims taken seriously.

No sector – whether hospitality, or any other sector – has the right to steal wages from workers.


Tony Burke