15 May 2019

Labor has announced a new small-claims jurisdiction to help workers recover wages from recalcitrant bosses. Barriers to the current small claims process were highlighted as a significant problem by the Migrant Workers Taskforce in its recent report, and the $100,000 threshhold was proposed by the McKell Institute in a comprehensive discussion paper, Ending Wage Theft: Eradicating Underpayment in the Australian Workplace. Labor made additional, welcome commitments that “[c]laims brought forward by groups of workers against a single employer will also be permitted”, and that funding to community legal centres will be increased. The ACTU’s Sally McManus explains why this simple policy is so important: “Getting back wages which have been stolen from you should be simple and inexpensive… Wage theft has become systemic because employers get away with it. By empowering working people to claim back their stolen wages we will make sure that employers who steal wages face consequences.”