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Systemic, sustained and shameful: unlawful underpayment of employees' remuneration

Wage theft Labour market Wages Australia

The evidence received by the Committee allowed it to investigate the following issues:

  • the nature and extent of underpayment;
  • vulnerable workers, including women, migrants, young people, international students, and First Nations people;
  • the impact of underpayment on workers, their families and wider society;
  • the regulatory and enforcement framework;
  • the role of unions; and
  • underpayment in various sectors, particularly the higher education sector.

This first chapter of the report outlines how underpayment and wage theft are defined, the extent of the underpayment problem in Australia, as well as high-risk industries affected by underpayments. The chapter then goes on to consider the categories of wage theft—including both deliberate and unintentional underpayment—and the factors contributing to underpayment.

The remainder of this report is structured as follows:

  • Chapter 2—significant groups of Australians who are impacted by underpayment, as well as the impacts on their lives and wider society;
  • Chapter 3—the current regulatory environment;
  • Chapter 4—underpayments in universities;
  • Chapter 5—potential measures to address underpayment; and
  • Chapter 6—the committee's views.
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