What will happen to wage theft bosses

 

COMPANIES could be publicly shamed for underpaying workers and directors disqualified as the Federal Government ramps up pressure on businesses caught exploiting employees.

Responding to a series of recent high profile wage theft cases, Attorney-General Christian Porter will today release a discussion paper that seeks to better protect workers.

The paper was built off recommendations from the Migrant Worker Taskforce and raises the prospect of handing courts greater powers to punish civil offending of wage theft and worker exploitation.

Options raised included disqualifying directors of companies involved in significant underpayment, forcing companies to disclose or publish their offending through adverse publicity orders, and banning companies from employing workers on certain visas.

Mr Porter said recent cases of companies admitting to short-changing staff, sometimes by hundreds of millions of dollars, were appalling.

Attorney-General Christian Porter is seeking to further tighten the screws on business caught underpaying staff.
Attorney-General Christian Porter is seeking to further tighten the screws on business caught underpaying staff.

"While it's understood the vast majority of these underpayments were not deliberate and were rectified swiftly, they are incredibly serious and border on negligence given we are talking about sophisticated organisations that should be capable of meeting their obligations under workplace law," he said.

Separate legislation to criminalise the most deliberate cases of worker exploitation with penalties including jail and fines is scheduled to be introduced to parliament within weeks.

The move comes as embattled TV chef George Calombaris faced another blow yesterday with administrators unable to organise a quick sale of leases for his collapsed food empire.

George Calombaris goes for a downcast walk with a friend in Melbourne yesterday as his restaurant empire collapsed even further. Picture: Media Mode
George Calombaris goes for a downcast walk with a friend in Melbourne yesterday as his restaurant empire collapsed even further. Picture: Media Mode

Mr Calombaris was last year forced to repay hundreds of workers nearly $8 million in unpaid wages and the latest blow leaves more than 400 staff in limbo.

Late last year, the Courier-Mail also revealed the hospitality powerhouse company behind Queensland's successful Pig 'N' Whistle pub chain had been accused of docking its employees' wages to cover unpaid customer bills.

Wage underpayment scandals have also engulfed Woolworths, the Commonwealth Bank, and the ABC.


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