Victorian Premier Vows To Crackdown On Dogdy Bosses If Re-elected

Employers cheating workers out of wages could face jail time if Labor is re-elected

What you need to know
  • Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will introduce jail terms for wage theft if re-elected
  • Employers could face up to 10 years behind bars and businesses could be fined up to $950,000
  • Labor also promised tougher work safety laws

Dodgy employers could face up to ten years behind bars under new laws promised by Victoria's Labor government if re-elected.

The state's premier, Daniel Andrews, revealed the new laws at his party's annual conference in Melbourne, telling hundreds of Labor delegates he plans to crack down on dodgy employers.

“Whether you’re a convenience store chain or a celebrity chef, if you deliberately and dishonestly underpay your workers, if you deny or deprive them of what is rightfully theirs, you will face jail,” Andrews said on Saturday.

As well as a possible ten-year jail sentence, the reforms will carry fines of more than $150,000 for bosses and $950,000 for businesses who are found guilty of deliberately withholding wages, superannuation or other entitlements from their staff, falsifying employments records or failing to keep proper paperwork.

In an effort to make it faster, cheaper and easier for workers to get the money an employer may owe them, the new laws will also include lowered court filing fees and a fast-tracked court process for claims of up to $50,000.

A new employment watchdog, the Victorian Wage Inspectorate, will investigate and prosecute offences. The agency has already been funded, securing $22 million in the 2018 budget.

"The Wage Inspectorate will help protect all workers, particularly our most vulnerable, and ensure compliance and enforcement with employment conditions across Victoria," Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins said.

If Labor is re-elected, Victoria will become the first Australian jurisdiction to criminalize wage theft.

“Every worker has the right to get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work," Andrews said.

"The simple fact is underpaying workers is theft and it’s time it’s treated like that in our laws.”

Andrews has also vowed to jail bosses over workplace deaths.

Under new industrial manslaughter laws, employers whose negligence lead to the death of an employee will face up to 20 years in jail and fines of almost $16 million in an effort to change the existing workplace culture around workplace safety.

The premier told Saturday's crowd of delegates that 234 Victorians had lost their lives at work over the past decade.

“It couldn’t be more simple: no one should die at work," he said.

"These laws will help make sure that every Victorian makes it home to loved ones.”

Featured image: AAP