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What is wage theft?

Wage theft happens when your employer doesn’t pay you the minimum monetary amount, or allowances and entitlements that are outlined in the agreement or award that you work under, and that includes compulsory superannuation.

It can happen by mistake, but often wage theft is a deliberate action taken by your boss to steal money that you are rightly and lawfully entitled to.

The national minimum wage

As of 1 July 2021, the national minimum wage is $20.33 per hour or $772.60 for a 38-hour week.

Casual employees get at least a 25 per cent loading on top of that.

However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increase will be delayed for some awards.

Retail workers will not receive the increase until 1 September 2021.

Aviation, tourism and fitness workers will not receive the increase until 1 November 2021.

Different forms of wage theft

There are many different ways employers steal wages and entitlements from their employees.

They include:

  • paying less than the minimum hourly rate;
  • failure to pay penalty rates, overtime and allowances;
  • taking unlawful deductions from wages for things like breakages, till shortages and accommodation;
  • refusing to allow leave;
  • demanding wages be paid back in “cash-back” schemes;
  • paying employees in cash “off the books”; and
  • unpaid work experience or internships

Unpaid superannuation

Employers are required to make superannuation contributions for employees who are:

  • 18 years-old or over and are paid at least $450 before tax in salary or wages in a calendar month;
  • under 18 years-old, work more than 30 hours a week and are paid at least $450 in salary or wages before tax in a calendar month.

It doesn’t matter if they are part time, full time or casual.

Some contractors working and being paid primarily for labour may also be eligible to receive superannuation contributions.


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