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Wage Inspectorate helps Victorians recoup over $1 million in long service leave

Sunday, 30 July 2023 at 11:10 pm

Wage Inspectorate Victoria helped workers claw back more than $1 million of long service leave entitlements last financial year, with one worker recovering more than $20,000. 

In other long service leave matters, a hairdresser reclaimed more than $7800 and an administration worker in a solar panel company recovered $7400.

The Wage Inspectorate helped 15,000 Victorian businesses and workers in the 2022-23 financial year, with most requests coming from people seeking information about long service leave and child employment. 

More than 425,000 people accessed the regulator’s educational tools and website resources, a 49 per cent increase on the previous year. 

The Wage Inspectorate had 17 matters before the court, including: 

  • the first criminal wage theft charges laid under the Victorian Wage Theft Act 2020
  • charges against BankWest and ComSec alleging breaches of long service leave laws   
  • charges against Muffin Break, Red Rooster and Cold Rock Ice Creamery franchises alleging child employment breaches.

The Wage Inspectorate also finalised two court matters during the financial year. A finance company pleaded guilty to failing to pay a former employee their long service leave entitlements when they were due, and a fish and chip shop was convicted and fined for child employment breaches.

The Wage Inspectorate assessed more than 600 reports of alleged criminal wage theft and continued to conduct investigations using the powers granted under Victoria’s wage theft laws that came into effect in 2021. 

Putting boots on the ground continued to be a focus for the Wage Inspectorate in 2022-23, with authorised officers conducting 395 child employment compliance checks and investigations across Victoria. Inspections were conducted from Mildura in the north, to Portland in the West and Paynesville in the East, and many places in between. 

The Wage Inspectorate issued 9121 child employment permits and conducted educative field visits to help prepare businesses for the transition to the new licensing system, which was implemented on 1 July. 

Most businesses want to do the right thing, which is why education was a major focus for the Wage Inspectorate, which ran two major education campaigns, released educative videos and e-learning modules, engaged over 200 stakeholders and translated information into nine languages. 

The Wage Inspectorate audited 248 contracts to ensure hirers of owner-drivers were complying with Victoria’s owner-driver and forestry contractor laws. 

Quotes attributable to Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria Robert Hortle 

“We’ve had an even bigger impact during our second year, with more cases before the courts, more workplace inspections and more Victorians reclaiming long service leave entitlements. We also saw more Victorians access our education resources to learn about their rights and obligations.” 

“We’re here to help businesses understand the laws we enforce, from long service leave to wage theft, child employment to owner driver laws. We educate businesses so they can do the right thing.” 

“We helped Victorians reclaim over $1 million in unpaid long service leave – money that is rightfully theirs. It’s great to see employees being empowered by the Wage Inspectorate to stand up for what they’re owed.” 

“We’ll continue to promote child employment laws over the next twelve months, to ensure businesses understand and comply with new laws that help keep kids safe at work.”

Infographic of Wage Inspectorate Victoria's 2023-24 statistics

Image description for Wage Inspectorate Victoria 2022-23 results 

Educating businesses and workers 

13,248 calls answered

2508 calls from employers 

1845 written enquiries 

398 news media stories

45.2 million potential news media reach 

425,300 total visits to educational tools and resources on website

More than 200 stakeholders engaged 

89,100 likes, clicks, and shares on social media channels 

12.4 million social media impressions 

Compliance and enforcement

134 long service leave investigations completed 

More than $1 million in long service leave recouped, including more than $20,000 recovered by one worker

9121 child employment permits issued

17 matters before the court

395 child employment compliance checks and investigations 

248 hirers of owner-drivers checked for compliance with the law

Assessed more than 600 reports of alleged wage theft