Queensland employers who deliberately steal from their workers will now face jail time under new laws passed in State Parliament on Wednesday.
Under the new laws, the maximum penalty for stealing by an employer will be the same as the current maximum penalty for stealing as a clerk or servant, which is 10 years behind bars.
It will now also be easier and quicker for employees to get their hands on unpaid wages.
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Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the new laws were borne out of a parliamentary inquiry which investigated the impact of wage theft on Queensland workers.
“The inquiry heard from workers and employers who agreed that more needed to be done to address this issue,” Ms Grace said.
“Last week I met with a group of hospitality workers who have experienced wage theft and hear their personal stories.
“Like all workers, the bare minimum these workers are asking for is pay for a fair day’s work, to get what is legally owed to them, but unfortunately for them that has not been the reality.”
The State Government said wage theft affects one in four Queensland workers and takes $2.2 billion in unpaid wages and superannuation out of their pockets each year.
“Far too often and for far too long, the stories of wage theft and underpayment have continued unabated,” Ms Grace said.
“Today we have said enough is enough.”