Are you guilty of wage theft?

In the recent months the phase “wage theft” is popular term, as it was used in news articles about some national companies admitted to underpaying their staff. While news reporters are only reporting those “big” and well-known companies, any employer can potentially be committing some degree of wage theft. It is important that employers run their checks periodically to ensure they are doing the right thing.

What is wage theft

Wage theft is a term whereby employers are denying payment of wages or employment benefits that are rightfully earned by an employee. It could take a lot of different forms: from not paying them overtime, not paying them at the minimum wage rate, to non-payment of the 9.5% superannuation etc. Essentially any non-payment or underpayments made by employers to their employees can be called a wage theft.

What are the things should employers look out for?

Employers have a few venues to explore to ensure they are paying the right amount of wages/providing the correct benefits to their employees.

This depends on the following factors:

  • Employer’s business structure
  • The state the employer is running a business in
  • Employee’s industry and occupation
  • Type of employment (full time/part time/casual)
  • Whether there is any enterprise agreement or registered agreement

Where to find help?

The Fair Work Ombudsman website contains information on minimum wage rates for different awards. It contains helpful tools, templates and guides, as well as calculators for you to understand and follow Australian workplace laws. It is a very good starting point for employers to understand the basics.

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety has a Wageline to help WA businesses with their employment questions, including pay rates, leave entitlements, employer obligations and long service leave for employees etc. Note they can only assist employees working in the private sector business covered by the WA state industrial relations system (WA state system).

The WA state system covers business structures such as:

  • sole traders
  • unincorporated partnerships
  • unincorporated trust arrangements
  • incorporated associations or not for profit bodies that are not trading or financial corporations

You can find out more about the wage pay rates here.

Too complicated and need more specific advice?

If you are time poor or find the above links too complicated to deal with and would want someone to provide you with further assistance, you can contact the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA for assistance.