3 August 2019

A business columnist’s complaint about “pilfering” by employees, which he says includes “robbing of time” through “the taking of extra breaks” and “the chucking of sickies”, highlights the disparity between the criminal laws that are applied to workers for ‘time theft’, and the civil laws that are applied to employers for ‘wage theft’. In egregious cases, workers go to jail for timesheet fraud — whereas bosses who systematically steal wages by keeping two sets of books are only taken to civil court. Workers can be convicted of a crime for taking a few days of fake sick leave each year — but bosses who sack cancer patients rather than give them their legal sick leave entitlements only face a civil case. Workers can be prosecuted for lying on a CV — but bosses can not be prosecuted for lying in a job ad. There are two legal systems in this country: one rule for us, another for them. Criminalising wage theft is just a small step towards balancing the scales of justice.