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Wage theft - worker information

You may be a victim of wage theft if your employer has deliberately and dishonestly underpaid you or withheld other employee entitlements.

Your pay and conditions

Employees are entitled to receive at least the minimum pay and conditions outlined in the relevant award, workplace agreement, contract of employment or legislation.

Information about pay rates and entitlements is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman may also be able to help you resolve workplace issues.

Wage theft

Wage theft offences involve dishonest conduct by employers. Honest mistakes or actions taken with due care and diligence are not considered wage theft.

You may be a victim of wage theft if your employer has:

  • deliberately and dishonestly underpaid you
  • deliberately and dishonestly withheld wages, superannuation or other employee entitlements
  • falsified employee entitlement records to gain a financial advantage
  • not kept employee entitlement records to gain a financial advantage.

At the Wage Inspectorate we investigate wage theft offences, including reports made by employees, and provide general advice about wage theft laws.

We only investigate matters that occurred in Victoria or have a link to Victoria.

Reclaiming money

An employer may choose to repay employee entitlements because of our investigation, but we cannot guarantee that you will be repaid because Victoria’s wage theft laws don’t cover recovering money.

If recovering money owed to you is your main goal, there may be better and quicker options.  

For help or advice about recovering money:

  • contact the Fair Work Ombudsman
  • contact your union if you’re a member of one
  • lodge a small claim in the Magistrates’ Court or Circuit Court, or take other civil court action.

To recover unpaid superannuation, contact the Australian Taxation Office.

Ask us a question or report suspected wage theft

Use our online form to:

  • ask a question about wage theft
  • report suspected wage theft
  • submit additional documents for an existing report.

Ask a question or report suspected wage theft

You can also ask a question or report suspected wage theft by calling us on 1800 287 287.

Frequently asked questions

  • If you have been underpaid, you could:

    • Write or speak to your employer to see if they can resolve the issue. Many underpayments are the result of an error or oversight and raising it with your employer may be the quickest way to get paid.
    • Contact your union if you’re a member of one. It may be able to help you recover what you’re owed and advise you about options for further action.
    • Request help from the Fair Work Ombudsman, which may be able to help you resolve your workplace issue.
    • Make a report to the Wage Inspectorate if you think your employer deliberately and dishonestly underpaid you or  withheld wages or entitlements.
    • Seek legal advice.
    • Lodge a small claim in the Magistrates’ Court or Circuit Court, or take other civil court action.
  • Employee entitlements are an amount payable to an employee, or any other benefit payable or attributable to an employee, including:

    • wages or salary
    • allowances and gratuities
    • annual leave
    • long service leave
    • meal breaks
    • superannuation

    The employee entitlements payable or attributable to an employee cannot be less than the minimum amount or benefit that is required under the relevant laws.

  • We review and assess each report. We may then:

    • investigate further and, where appropriate, take action against your employer
    • provide information on recovering any money you’re owed
    • refer you to another organisation that can assist such as the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Australian Taxation Office
    • take no further action.

    We aim to respond to reports within 21 days.

  • The offences under Victoria’s wage theft laws are criminal offences that must be proved to a standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

    The information and documents you provide help us determine whether we can pursue the matter, including whether to use our powers to obtain additional information from other people, including your employer, so provide as much as you can:

    • employment contract
    • pay slips
    • PAYG payment summaries
    • bank statements
    • timesheets or records of hours worked
    • correspondence with your employer or other agencies (such as emails, letters, text messages)

    You may also be asked to provide a witness statement.

    We have a guide with further information about the type of documents you should provide.

    If you are unable to provide information and documents or there is little prospect of our inspectors obtaining information and documents, we may be unable to proceed.

    Our inspectors review all information to determine whether there is enough evidence for a court to satisfy it, beyond reasonable doubt, that an offence has been committed.

    If a matter proceeds to court you may also be required to give evidence.

  • The information and documents you provide help us determine whether we can investigate your matter, so provide as much as you can.

    Most of the information we collect and review is contained in written documents or records, such as contracts, pay slips or timesheets. There are other types of information, but without written documents or records it may be more difficult for us to establish the existence of an employment relationship or the deliberate and dishonest withholding of employee entitlements.

  • To be covered by Victoria’s wage theft laws, you must be an employee and not an independent contractor. Whether a person is truly an independent contractor or employee needs to be assessed on a case by case basis.

    Contractors generally use their own processes, tools and methods to complete the work. They usually negotiate their own fees and working arrangements, and can work for more than one client at a time.

    More information on the difference between an employee and contractor is available from business.gov.au.

  • The Wage Inspectorate can only investigate alleged wage theft offences for conduct that has occurred on or after 1 July 2021. However, entitlements accrued before 1 July 2021 will be captured if the conduct to dishonestly withhold those entitlements occurs after 1 July 2021.

  • Employees are entitled to receive at least the minimum pay rates outlined in the relevant award, workplace agreement, contract of employment or legislation.

    The minimum pay rates prescribed by an award, legislation or registered workplace agreement cannot be overridden by a contract or agreement with the employee that provides for less beneficial entitlements.

  • Employees are entitled to receive the conditions outlined in the relevant award, workplace agreement, contract of employment or legislation.

    The minimum conditions and entitlements prescribed by an award, legislation or registered workplace agreement cannot be overridden by a contract or agreement with the employee that provides for less beneficial entitlements.

Reviewed 22 July 2021

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