Media Release 18 March 2020

Wage Theft Laws put Victorian business environment at risk

The Andrews’ Government proposal to introduce Victoria only penalties for failure to comply with Federal workplace relations legislation will damage Victoria’s reputation as a great place to do business and risk duplicating soon to be introduced Federal laws.

The Victorian Chamber does not support any failure to comply with employment laws. Every employee should receive their correct entitlements and all businesses should be able to compete fairly.

Underpayment is complex and driven by diverse factors. Australia has one of the most complex workplace relations systems of any country in the world.

Meaningfully tackling underpayment issues requires:

  • More policing – we have called for more funding for the Fair Work Ombudsman to undertake compliance and investigations.
  • Promotion and cultural change – we need increased awareness of minimum wage and entitlement rules, where to access information, and (for employers) information on the risks of getting this wrong.
  • Tackling complexity – Australia needs to address the massive complexity of our employment regulation which can contribute to non-compliance.

Business and workers need a national approach. Unnecessary and confusing state by state approaches will damage the business environment and discourage employment.

The Federal Government has committed to introducing legislation in coming weeks that will criminalise the most serious forms of deliberate worker exploitation and wage underpayments and introduce significant jail terms and fines.

There is a real risk that this proposed law could face constitutional challenges based on an inconsistency between a state law and a Commonwealth law.

The Victorian Government should wait until proposed federal laws are settled before asking the Parliament to consider any law that could subsequently be rendered invalid.

The cumulative impact of this and other anti-business policies risks reducing the competitiveness of Victorian business.

Quotes to be attributed to Victorian Chamber Chief Executive Paul Guerra:

“The Victorian Chamber does not support any failure to comply with employment laws. Every employee should receive their correct entitlements and all businesses should be able to compete fairly.

“A ‘Victoria only’ approach to industrial relations will increase the cost of doing business and drive jobs out of Victoria.

“Business contributes a significant proportion of Victoria’s tax revenue, builds Victorian infrastructure and deliver the services Victorians rely on. Anti-business sentiment is not in the interests of business, workers or the community.

“It is vital that any new underpayment laws are fair and proportionate, only target the most serious, repeated and deliberate conduct and do not unfairly punish inadvertent errors.”

Media Contact

All media enquiries may be directed to the Media and Communications Manager

03 8662 5310

0423 883 945

media@victorianchamber.com.au

For all other enquiries please contact the Victorian Chamber on 03 8662 5333

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