New Labor bill targets 'unscrupulous employers'

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New Labor bill targets 'unscrupulous employers'

Labor has upped its pressure on the government over what it says is worker exploitation and will introduce a bill next month to “crack down on unscrupulous employers”.

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Labor has increased its pressure on the government over what it says is worker exploitation and will introduce a bill next month to “crack down on unscrupulous employers”.

Earlier this month, Shadow Minister For Employment And Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor released Labor’s employment strategy, promising stronger legal protections and harsher penalties for deliberately underpaying workers and engaging in sham contracting.

O’Connor has now announced it will introduce a Private Member’s Bill in the Senate on Tuesday 15 March, keeping this issue to the fore during the election campaign whenever it is fought.

Citing recent examples of 7-Eleven workers, Pizza Hut delivery drivers and chicken factory workers supplying to Steggles and Lilydale, O’Connor said the bill would:
  • cracking down on the underpayment of workers, with significantly increased penalties for employers who deliberately and systemically avoid paying their employees properly
  • ramp up protections for workers from sham contracting, by strengthening legal protections for a worker’s entitlements and increasing penalties
  • give the Fair Work Ombudsman more power to pursue employers who liquidate their companies in order to avoid paying the money they owe their workers
  • introduce reforms to ensure that temporary overseas workers are not being exploited and underpaid and that there is a level playing field for all workers in Australia.
Labor is circulating an exposure draft of the bill for consultation with interested parties including employers, employees and their representatives over the next two weeks. It says it is willing to work with the government, the Greens and the cross bench to deliver the bill.

See related story: Labor's hit list – shammers, 'unscrupulous' bosses
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