The Employment Law Centre of WA (ELC) welcomes Minister Johnston’s announcement in response to Wage Theft today, and the release of the Report of the Inquiry into Wage Theft in Western Australia and the Proposed Government Response to the Inquiry: http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/labour-relations/inquiry-wage-theft-western-australia and https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2019/12/McGowan-Government-announces-actions-to-combat-wage-theft.aspx.
Earlier this year, ELC made a submission to this Inquiry as part of its law reform activities: Click here to view our submission
In ELC’s experience, workers are frequently underpaid their wages and entitlements.
It is also undeniable some employers do this deliberately and systematically.
Often the underpaid workers most hurt by this conduct, and who most need to rely on the regulatory framework to protect themselves, are the least able to do so.
Each year, ELC assists thousands of callers in Western Australia and regularly hears from vulnerable workers experiencing underpayment of wages and entitlements.
Wage theft is the most egregious breach of a worker’s right to be fully paid for the work they perform.
In 2017/18, approximately 82% of the callers ELC assisted raised issues of underpayment of wages and entitlements occurring in various forms. This is a substantial area of non-compliance significantly impacting on vulnerable Western Australian workers.
The Ministerial announcement today is a welcomed improvement to better protect vulnerable employees.
ELC is also grateful that the Report of the Inquiry into Wage Theft in Western Australia recognised ELC’s important role in addressing wage theft in WA. The Recommendation for increased funding to ELC to enable it to provide greater access to its services would be a welcomed boost to ELC’s service and its ability to meet the legal needs of vulnerable, exploited WA workers.