The Victorian Government has just passed new Legislation that criminalises Wage Theft.
As per the new provisions, which have passed through Parliament but are yet to commence, it is a crime to dishonestly withhold the whole or part of an employee entitlement owed by the employer to the employee; or to authorise, whether expressly or impliedly, another person to do so.
This new offence carries a penalty of 6000 Penalty Units (Currently $991,320.00) for Companies or up to ten years imprisonment for individuals.
The Act also extends these offences to company officeholders. Where a company commits an offence, each officeholder is taken to also have committed the offence. The officeholders can be prosecuted for the offence regardless of whether or not the company is also being prosecuted or been found guilty of the offence.
The Legislation also establishes the Wage Inspectorate Victoria, an investigative body which is charged with investigating and prosecuting potential cases of Wage Theft in Victoria. The Inspectorate has broad powers in its investigative and enforcement role to compel the production of documents, conduct search and seizures of documents or other things, take enforceable undertakings from those who have committed or have been accused of committing Wage Theft, and cause to be prosecuted instances of Wage Theft.