Legal Aid NSW: Wage theft common among migrant workers

The organisation reported that the number of people seeking advice on wage and entitlement issues has soared by over 40%

Legal Aid NSW: Wage theft common among migrant workers

The issue of wage theft and exploitation is common among migrant workers, Legal Aid NSW has reported.

"Many migrant workers don’t report exploitation because they are fearful they could lose their visa rights; however, we want people to know that there are new protections in place if they choose to take legal action," said Giles Fryer, a solicitor with Legal Aid NSW’s employment law team. "Migrant workers are now entitled to the same employment law rights and entitlements as other employees working in Australia. These changes are applicable regardless of migration status".

Migrant workers constitute 26% of the workforce in Australia, and are frequently employed in the retail, hospitality, and agriculture sectors as casual and seasonal workers. The organisation has encouraged migrant workers to seek legal assistance for any concerns, including wages, underpayment, entitlements, dismissals, discrimination or sexual harassment.

Most Read

"Migrant workers such as fruit pickers in regional areas are particularly vulnerable to underpayment and exploitation, so we want to ensure people know help is available," Fryer said.

Legal Aid NSW revealed that the volume of enquiries directed towards its employment law service regarding wages and entitlements soared by 43% from 2022 to 2023. Aside from wage theft, which included underpayment or non-payment of entitlements, breach of contract was another common wage-related issue.

"We often see employees who are paid below Award rates and not given payslips, despite this being a legal requirement. That makes it harder to identify if they are owed unpaid overtime and penalty rates, annual leave, or superannuation," Fryer said. “We encourage people to check their wages and entitlements like leave and loading by using the Fair Work Ombudsman’s online Pay and Conditions Tool to make sure they’re above board and to reach out for help if there are any red flags or they are unsure. There is a 6-year time limit to commence a court claim, it is best to seek advice about your issues as soon as possible after they happen”

Recent articles & video

Carroll O'Dea celebrates 125 years with women-centric promotions round

Former Shell plc legal director among ACC noms for global board

Clayton Utz lends a hand to Children's Cancer Institute on lease agreement

Ex-AICM Queensland president commences with Keypoint Law

High Court affirms immunity for foreign state-owned entities in winding-up proceedings

KWM expands partnership with nine promotions

Most Read Articles

NSW justice system welcomes new judges

Seven ascend to Hall & Wilcox partnership in huge promotions round

HWL Ebsworth unveils board of partners

KWM expands partnership with nine promotions