Last year, the workplace cop fined employers just $4 million for underpaying workers. The Tax Office collected $3 billion in penalties from people who didn’t pay their tax.
Exploitation flourishes because regulators do not routinely detect or punish labour law noncompliance.
More than a dozen Australian universities have been publicly accused of underpaying staff. Some have paid millions in backpay after audits. And a big factor in wage theft is the rise of casualisation.
Research suggests harsher civil or criminal penalties will not automatically lead to greater compliance by employers with workplace laws.
Three-quarters of teenagers in our survey experienced exploitation, bullying, harassment or some other form of abuse in their first job.
The Modern Slavery Bill presents an opportunity for companies to take seriously their obligation to identify, track and monitor potential problems in their operations and supply chain.
That the Fair Work Ombudsman brought a case against Foodora suggests its workers are most likely to be classified as employees. This could dissuade other platforms from offering similar benefits.