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Proposed VIC worker underpayment laws – Ai Group comment

"Amendments to Victoria’s Crimes Act proposed today by Premier Daniel Andrews to address worker underpayments are unnecessary. There is no need for new State laws in this area. Federal laws already comprehensively address the issue," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group, said today.

"The Fair Work Act already contains very large penalties for employers who underpay workers and those who do not keep the required pay records. These penalties were recently increased by up to 20 times.

"Underpaying workers is not acceptable behaviour. However, 'Wage theft' is an emotive term coined by the union movement designed to tarnish all employers. It describes something which is already effectively and comprehensively addressed in legislation.

"Australia's workplace relations laws and awards are extremely complex and underpayments can be the result of genuine misunderstanding and pay errors. Criminalising underpayments and labelling underpayments as 'theft' would deter business owners from employing people and investing," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347