Lawyer negotiation
News 27 February 2020

Federal and State underpayment laws on the way – have your say

The Victorian Government is moving forward with its pre-election commitment to establish new ‘wage theft’ laws with the release of a consultation paper this week outlining the proposed design of new legislation.

Under proposed new Victorian laws, employers who deliberately withhold wages, superannuation or entitlements, falsify employment records, or fail to keep employment records will face fines of up to $190,284 for individuals, $951,420 for companies and up to 10 years jail.

Melbourne University academics have warned that these proposed laws could face a constitutional challenge.

Concurrently, the Federal Attorney General, the Hon Christian Porter MP, has committed to criminalising underpayments as part of a suite of national industrial relations reforms with legislation to be introduced to the Federal parliament in coming weeks.

In a submission on the federal proposal, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has acknowledged the issue of underpayments in the Australian labour market, but strongly disputed the need to further change workplace law.

ACCI proposes a number of constructive reforms to improve compliance including:

  • A national promotional camping to educate all Australians about their workplace rights and obligations
  • Substantially increasing the number of Fair Work inspectors
  • Genuinely tackling complexity in our workplace laws.

ACCI also highlighted that it is already possible for underpayments to be subject to criminal sanction where the behaviour constitutes theft and falls within the types of offences already in existence at both a state and commonwealth level.

While it remains to be seen how the proposed federal and state laws would interact, the Victorian Chamber will be making a submission on the Victorian Government’s proposal and will be advocating strongly to protect the interests of members.

To inform our advocacy, we would like to hear from members about their views and experience. Please email Hugh Horsfall from the Policy and Advocacy Team or call (03) 8662 5106.

MCC Contact

Get in touch with the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce

03 8662 5214


Sign up for our newsletter

Enter your email below and receive a weekly email summary in your inbox

Subscribe to our Newsletter