Queensland judges will become Australia’s first to have the power to convict bosses who
intentionally rip off workers on Wednesday afternoon after new legislation passed the state parliament.
The criminal code of the state has been revised to give
out up to 10 years in prison for employers who underpaid employees.
Similar laws were enacted earlier this year in Victoria,
but the legislation will not be implemented until 2021.
The laws of Queensland will be enforced before the dissolution
of the government on 6 October, ahead of the state election.
Minister Grace Grace, of Queensland Industrial Relations, said wage theft affected one in four
Queensland workers, taking away more than $2 billion in unpaid salaries and superannuation each year.
“Far too often and for far too long, the stories of wage theft and underpayment have continued unabated,” Ms Grace said in Parliament.
“Twenty million dollars at Coles, $9 million at Target, $4 million at Bunnings, up to $300 million at Woolworths, $32 million at Super Retail Group, over $100 million at 7-Eleven, $7.8 million courtesy of George Calombaris – and these are just the high-profile cases.”