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Behavioural insights case study: Wage Inspectorate Victoria

We worked with the Wage Inspectorate to understand the barriers to reporting breaches of workplace law and design solutions to help people make reports.

The Wage Inspectorate promotes and enforces Victoria’s wage theft, child employment, long service leave, and owner driver and forestry contractor laws. 

The Behavioural Insights Unit (BIU) worked with the Wage Inspectorate to uncover why reporting of workplace law breaches is and is not happening, and how behavioural insights can be used to increase good-quality reports from workers and third parties or to encourage them to continue through the entire reporting process.

The behavioural challenge

Breaches of the Long Service Leave Act 2018 and other workplace laws are a serious threat to Victorian workers, especially those from vulnerable groups. However, there are a variety of factors that may prevent members of the community from reporting alleged offences or progressing with their reports

Most employers want to do the right thing, however, there are some who dishonestly break the law or fail to meet their legal obligations. For those who want to comply, there may be factors that influence their awareness or understanding of the laws and compliance. 

What we did

To address these barriers, we needed to use a variety of techniques to understand the obstacles facing employers across all the legislative areas and employees who want to report breaches of workplace laws. These techniques included:

  • A behaviourally focused literature and past report review;
  • Behavioural interviews and focus groups with Wage Inspectorate staff and employees who had experienced a workplace law breach;
  • A survey to understand the scale of the problem; and
  • A behaviourally focused review of existing Wage Inspectorate materials and communications, including their website and reporting processes.

What we found

Outputs from the qualitative research

We analysed the qualitative research outputs using the COM-B model to understand how the triggers and barriers were impacting the target behaviour of increasing the incidence or continuation of reports to the Wage Inspectorate when workplace laws may have been breached. 

We found that the following could prevent reporting of workplace law breaches or continuing with reporting process

  • Capability barriers:
    • Not having the right documentation or evidence 
    • Low understanding of workplace rights/ laws
    • Difficulties using reporting forms 
    • Low literacy or English levels 
    • Not knowing about the Wage Inspectorate or what they do, or thinking that another organisation might handle the issue
  • Opportunity barriers:
    • Lack of time to make a report
    • No clear prompt to report, so the situation continues
    • Cultural and social norms against challenging an employer or asking for changes in the workplace
  • Motivation barriers:
    • Fear of reprisals for making a report
    • Belief that the process will take a long time and may not have a satisfactory outcome or be worth it to the employee
    • Lack of trust in the system or in government 
    • Fear of the unknown (what will the process involve? What will the report lead to?)

We also identified triggers to reporting such as:

  • the Wage Inspectorate being easy to contact 
  • getting good advice from others about reporting/ knowing others who have made a report and 
  • wanting to protect other employees from the same situation.

Solutions designed by BIU

After the qualitative research, the survey, and a thorough review of the Wage Inspectorate website, resources, and processes, BIU suggested several possible solutions. 

Below are the two main solutions that the Wage Inspectorate has progressed with. The solutions are focused on the Long Service Leave Act 2018 as a starting point and similar tools can be designed for other Acts in the future.

An online user journey of the long service leave reporting process

User journeys set out the various stages of a process and what needs to be done from a user’s perspective so they can understand it more easily. 

A user journey for making a long service leave report would cover each step in the process and include things like eligibility, helpful information for progressing a report, making a report, and what the report might lead to. 

The user journey would clearly outline what steps the worker can take, the role and responsibilities of the Wage Inspectorate and expectations of the employer. the role and responsibilities of the worker, WIV (and other organisations), and the employer. It would link to information that can help the user navigate the reporting process. 

A decision tool to help people understand whether they are eligible for Long Service Leave under the Act

Decision tools help people navigate large amounts of information by highlighting which parts are most relevant for them or providing options to better support their decision making.

These tools can be delivered through diagrams like flow charts to illustrate processes, or simple ‘Yes/No’ questionnaires that produce tailored guidance based on a user’s responses.

At the end of the decision tool, the user would be directly linked to the most relevant information or next steps for them.

We recommended creating a questionnaire that would help the user understand when they may be eligible for a long service leave entitlement under the Act, as this was a common enquiry for the Wage Inspectorate. 

What's next?

BIU has helped the Wage Inspectorate designing and implement the reporting user journey and decision tool. The long service leave decision tool and user journey can be found on the WIV website.

Working with the Behavioural Insights team has helped us learn more about what motivates our stakeholders, and given us tools to implement behaviour-based interventions across our regulatory work. 

Daniel Simpson, Communications Manager WIV


We thank our partners at Wage Inspectorate Victoria for their support of behavioural insights and their collaboration throughout this project.