26 September 2023

Wages Watchdog reports a first year jackpot

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The Wage Inspectorate Victoria has completed its first year of service by clawing back hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid long service leave for workers and helping more than 15,000 employees and businesses.

Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria, Robert Hortle said the Authority was aiming to have an even bigger impact in the next 12 months through its intelligence-led compliance activities, prosecutions, and the release of new educational resources, including e-learning courses and multilingual videos.

“It’s our vision to create productive and prosperous Victorian workplaces,” Mr Hortle said.

“That means fairer conditions for workers and a level playing field for businesses, so they’re not undercut by law breakers,” he said.

“We’ve had a successful and balanced first year, educating businesses and workers about the law and taking appropriate compliance action.”

Congratulating the Authority, the Minister for Industrial Relations, Tim Pallas said the Regulator’s 2021-22 figures showed 295 Victorians claimed they were underpaid long service leave and $309,367 was recouped with the Inspectorate’s help.

“The Wage Inspectorate also took strong action in the courts with seven matters before court during the financial year, including a successful action against Coles Supermarkets that led to more than 4,000 workers being paid back more than $700,000 in long service leave,” Mr Pallas said

“More than 7,700 permits were issued to employers of children under 15 and 329 child employment compliance checks and investigations were conducted,” he said.

“The Regulator’s child employment team conducted almost 100 field visits and sent over 200 letters to businesses suspected of employing children under 15 to educate them about the law.”

Mr Pallas said the Wage Inspectorate also commenced intelligence-led, criminal wage theft investigations using the powers granted under Victoria’s new wage theft laws, including executing search warrants, issuing compulsory notices, entering premises and seizing evidence.

He said members of the retail, hospitality, manufacturing and services industries were the most likely to call the Wage Inspectorate.

“About 3,000 calls came from employers seeking to understand their obligations, with employees, parents or people calling on behalf of a worker or business making up the balance of calls,” the Minister said.

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