Labor wage theft reforms a welcome measure to assist unpaid workers

15 May 2019
Lawyers have today welcomed the announcement that a Shorten Labor Government will introduce a new small claims jurisdiction for wage underpayments if elected, saying the move would help to ensure a fairer and more efficient process for workers seeking access to justice.

Maurice Blackburn Principal Giri Sivaraman, who has acted in a number of underpayment claims including for 7-Eleven workers, said the reform was an important step for workers seeking to reclaim unpaid wages.

“Too often in these cases the balance is tipped in favour of the employer responsible for perpetrating the wage theft, and it can be a very difficult process for a worker to bring a claim for underpayment in seeking to get back wages they are owed,” Mr Sivaraman said.

“In many instances these should be open and shut cases, because the evidence is clear that a worker has been underpaid. Yet unfortunately for many the process to reclaim their unpaid wages can be lengthy and difficult, particularly for vulnerable workers who often face considerable challenges just to come forward and report their stolen wages.

“The introduction of a low-cost small claims jurisdiction that has a greater ability to deal with claims efficiently, including enforcement orders to have wages repaid, is an important and overdue step to restoring balance to workers in this process.

“We would urge all sides of politics to adopt this proposal – it will make a key difference for workers, including those in regional and rural areas, in providing a cost effective, fair and timely way to recover lost wages,” he said.

Media inquiries: Jade Thompson at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on 0417 969 438.

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