Late last year, the Palaszczuk Government passed legislation making it a criminal offence for employers to knowingly underpay their staff. Directors and business owners can face jail time.
2020 highlighted several businesses who underpaid their workers. Most employers almost never deliberately underpay their works. Whenever we have identified payment issues it has always been due to the complexity of the industrial relations system, or at worst, a lack of attention or oversight.
Last year the CCIQ spoke in front of a Parliamentary Committee to ask the government not to proceed. They pointed to the economic crisis, a confusing Modern Awards system, and the many ways that cases of alleged underpayment can already be addressed under the current system. They also stressed that there are already so many pressures dampening employers’ confidence and willingness to hire.
What You Need to Know
- From 10th September, wage theft is a criminal offence in Queensland punishable by up to 10 years in prison for ‘stealing’ and a maximum of 14 years in jail for an offence of fraud.
- Workers, or a Union on behalf of a worker, can initiate the process by making a complaint to Queensland Police.
- The process involves conciliation for cases up to $20,000.
- Workers, or a Union on behalf of a worker, can initiate a civil claim instead, through a new Industrial Magistrates Court if they choose.
What You Need To Do
Now more than ever, employers need to get pays right. This means:
- Ensure your staff are being paid correctly under the relevant Modern Award or enterprise agreement, keeping in mind recent changes to Award minimum rates of pay and conditions. The General Retail Industry Award will increase by 1.75% from Monday 1st February 2021, the Clerks Private Sector and Timber Industry Awards increased on 1st November 2020.
- Be sure to factor in allowances, overtime and other relevant award or enterprise agreement entitlements to ensure you are paying pursuant to an award or enterprise agreement.
Need Peace of Mind?
Our workplace relations team provide advice on wage rates and can ensure you are paying your workers correctly.