Australian companies are ripping off employees to be “mentioned and ashamed” and banned from hiring vulnerable migrants
- Morrison government introduces legislation to tackle underpayments by employees
- Companies that exploit employees can receive substantial imprisonment or heavy fines
- It comes after Chef George Calombaris had $ 7.8 million underpaid staff last year
Companies that have committed wage theft can be publicly named and embarrassed by proposed labor relations reforms.
Attorney General Christian Porter, who is also Minister of Industrial Relations, has issued a discussion paper that looks at options to address underpayments to employees.
The article raises the prospect of unfavorable publicity assignments, whereby an employer may be required to show a notification stating that he has too few employees.
Company directors can be disqualified from holding offices and companies that do not prevent wage theft from being employed by migrant workers.
Advocate General Christian Porter (photo) was established to introduce legislation that could lead to imprisonment or fines for companies exploiting employees
Mr. Porter said that the vast majority of overdue payments were not intentional.
But he said the issue was incredibly serious and borders on negligence in the case of large companies that should be able to follow workplace legislation.
“Like most Australians, the government is shocked by the number of companies that have recently admitted that their staff must be replaced – in some cases by hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.
The Morrison government will also introduce legislation in the coming week to criminalize the most serious forms of exploitation of workers with substantial prison sentences and fines.
Mr Porter said that the coalition had already increased a number of civil fines by a factor of 10.
“But it is clear to me that more needs to be done to motivate companies to improve their performance, such as disqualifying directors from organizations that are still doing it wrong,” he said.
Famous chef George Calombaris (photo) appeared to have underpaid $ 7.8 million last year
The measures stem from the Migrant Worker Task Force, which came after shocking revelations of underpayment in 7-Eleven stores.
The discussion paper also asks whether the Small Claims process available through courts can be streamlined to encourage greater participation at lower costs.
A formal role for the Fair Work Commission to mediate disputes between employers and employees is being considered as a way to achieve faster and cheaper results.
In recent years, wage scandals have flooded the hospitality industry, with high-profile issues, including celebrity chef George Calombaris and Woolworths, making headlines.
Mr Porter has also issued a discussion paper on the improvement of the construction code.