Wage theft harms two thirds of workers. Here is how to check if that’s you.

Published: 14/01/2023
Category: Working life
Published: 14/01/2023
Category: Working life

It’s not just a little bit of unpaid overtime here, a bit of cash-in-hand there. New research found that two thirds of workers in Australia are not receiving their full salary.  

The data from payroll provider ADP showed that the majority of workers were forced to wait more than one pay cycle to receive backpay.  

But waiting is a luxury few can afford, with workers having skipped meals due to poor pay and cost-of-living.  

Follow these four steps to find out if you are being underpaid.

1. Read your employment contract

When you first began your job, you would have received a bundle of paperwork. Amongst those papers (physical or digital) will be the employment contract you signed. 

In that contract, you can find your rate of pay as well as other information about your job position.  

It is also worth checking if you’re on Award rates or if you fall under an Enterprise Agreement and this will help you figure out if you’re being paid correctly.

2. Check your payslips

Your employer is legally obliged to provide a payslip within one working day of your pay day. If your employer hasn’t given you payslips, contact your union now because that’s a huge no-no. 

Depending on your employment type and entitlements, your payslip is a record of paid wages and superannuation payments. You should keep your payslips because you can use them to track your pay.  

Also take a moment to check your superannuation payments, as another common form of wage theft is super theft. Employers must provide contributions to your super that are minimum 10.5 per cent of your ordinary earnings.

3. Learn your classification

Your employer decides your classification (which you can find in your employment contract) and is based on the relevant Award or Enterprise Agreement. 

A classification is how workplace rules (called Awards) or workplace agreements determine how much an employee is paid according to skill level or qualifications.  

Each classification has specific requirements and is allocated a specific minimum wage. Classifications are often labelled with “levels” e.g. Retail employee level 4.  

Unfortunately, employers will sometimes under-classify workers which results in lower pay than what they should be receiving.  

To double-check you are on the right classification, contact your union. They can help you if you’ve been under-classified to apply for reclassification and therefore be paid more.

4. Start talking

If you haven’t already, chat to your workmates and figure out if your colleagues have similar concerns about their pay. It’s highly likely that when you’re worried about something at work, you won’t be the only one. 

It’s at this point being a union member really pays off. Call your union to talk about how you can get it fixed as a group. Together, you can bring your concerns to your employer’s attention; no one has to do that conversation alone.

When a boss is made aware of how widespread certain issues are, it means they are more likely to act. That’s the power of numbers.

The best protection is union membership

Learn more about protecting yourself against wage theft and landing a wage increase with The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Pay Rise.

Whether you have tricky questions you need answering or you’re ready to take action, your union is the first source of information about your wages and working rights.  

No matter what you do or who you work for, if you’re looking for guidance on which union is for you, Australian Unions can help.

Take control of your working life

Wage theft harms two thirds of workers. Here is how to check if that’s you.

Wage theft harms two thirds of workers. Here is how to check if that’s you.