Go to content

Legal help available to combat wage theft

21 Nov 2017

Expert help is available for international students, backpackers and others who are being ripped off in the workplace, a Legal Aid NSW lawyer today said.

Expert help is available for international students, backpackers and others who are being ripped off in the workplace, a Legal Aid NSW lawyer today said.

Senior employment lawyer Bridget Akers said Legal Aid NSW receives enquiries every day from people in NSW who suspect they are being underpaid. Ms Akers said a joint report released today by UNSW Sydney and UTS, Wage Theft in Australia, offers an important national snapshot of the issue.

“Underpayment of wages and entitlements is one of the most common issues our employment lawyers are asked about here at Legal Aid NSW,” Ms Akers said.

“We have seen cases where people have been paid as little as $10.00 or $11.00 an hour.”

“Some employers routinely exploit their employees to boost their profits. And some are extraordinarily brazen – we have seen a number of cases involving employers who pay their workers above the minimum wage, only to turn around and demand that some of those wages be returned to the employer in cash.”

“Underpayment can go on unchecked because workers do not realise that their employers are breaking the law by paying them so little, or by refusing to provide payslips.”

“Even where workers know their rights, many fear retribution if they speak up. We can only guess how many vulnerable workers are suffering in silence.”

“Some temporary migrant workers are in Australia on visas that rely on their employers’ continued support. Sadly we have seen cases where workers have questioned the extraordinarily low wages they are receiving, and have been dismissed soon after.”

Legal Aid NSW lawyers offer regular employment law clinics. They can provide free advice and, in some cases, legal representation for workers in legal proceedings before the Fair Work Commission or the courts. Call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 or visit www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au to find a service near you.

Media Contact: Sophie Tarr (02) 9213 5208 or 0419 212 334