10 April 2019

“If you’d told me a few years ago that a conservative government would criminalise wage theft, I would not have believed it,” writes Professor Anthony Forsyth. “That’s how far the dial has shifted.” However, he argues the recommendations of the Migrant Worker Taskforce (adopted by the government) are weak on labour hire operators: “the worrying term in the taskforce’s recommendation for national labour hire registration is ‘light touch’.” He says we need a “robust type of enforcement agency, with investigatory powers to enforce licensing standards… We need a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to effectively combat worker exploitation”. The experience of the light-touch Fair Work Ombudsman, which has allowed wage theft to become a widespread and deeply entrenched business model, suggests he is right.