The term “wage theft” is a relatively new term that seems to
have had its origins arising from the 7-Eleven case a few years back and
continues to be widely used to describe situations where employees have been
underpaid by their employers. It continues to be a provocative and rhetorical
term that is used by Unions and the media when reporting on the most recent
cases involving Caltex, Pizza Hut, Dominos and indeed the ABC.
But are these cases really cases of wage theft, or as the
ACTU describes the cases as “worker exploitation”; or are they simply cases of
I would estimate that probably 90% of underpayment matters that I have dealt with over many years of experience, are not through the employer intentionally trying to “rip off” their employees, rather it has been mistakes in payroll, or employers not properly interpreting the Awards and legislation; or indeed some employers being naïve or under a myth or misapprehension about how to play employees. A perfect example of such a “myth” being that if you pay employee’s a “salary”, then you don’t have to pay them overtime.