One million Australian employees exposed to wage theft

Fair pay

New research released by workforce-management software provider Kronos Australia reveals the extent to which wage theft impacts all workers in Australia.

“Following research from UTS and UNSW revealing one in three backpackers and international students are paid half the legal minimum wage, we thought it was important to understand the severity of the situation across all employees in Australia,” said Peter Harte, Managing Director, Kronos SEA.

The report suggests over 1,000,000 workers (10 per cent of people in employment) in Australia rarely or never receive the minimum wage from their employer. Similarly, almost half of Australians (48 per cent) state they are not always paid for work carried outside of their shift hours including meetings and training, while 11 per cent said their pay does not accurately correspond to the hours worked.

“It’s disappointing to learn, that even in today’s mature economy, a large number of Australians are being exploited in the workplace – at a time when wage growth is slow and many people are working harder than ever. The practice is also illegal, with significant penalty rates for those businesses found to breach regulations. The situation is not ideal for building the thriving and intelligent economy Australia needs to compete in the international marketplace.” added Harte.

Further demonstrating that a lack of fairness in remuneration extends beyond overseas backpackers and international students, 43 per cent of Australians stated that during the course of their working life they had worked for an Australian employer who paid them less than the minimum wage. 15 per cent said they were also aware of situations where they were paid differently to their short-changed migrant colleague, while a quarter have been paid cash-in-hand to avoid paying tax.

“Given the complexity of workplace regulations and the changes that can occur annually, we understand it is not always easy for businesses to keep up to date. The use of agile workforce management and payroll systems which adhere to local legislation, help businesses remain compliant. It’s a critical investment that ensures employees are fairly recognised for their contributions, helps boost satisfaction and productivity, and reduced risk and the subsequent impact of breaking workplace laws.” said Harte.

“Further, with five generations in the workplace, businesses need to look beyond evolution of the workplace, and seek revolutionary products that help them manage, empower and engage a diverse workforce,” Harte concluded.