This story was written when a resume writing client came to Republic Resumes and complained about how she had been ripped off by her employer. It first appeared earlier this year in InDaily, where I am a contributing writer.
Extraordinary evidence is emerging from the banking royal commission, confirming what many already know, that some banks and financial institutions have gone to great lengths to rip off their customers.
There are also growing reports that some small businesses are stealing the wages of young employees and migrants and paying them less than ten dollars an hour. This breakdown in trust is unparalleled in Australian economic history. Youth wage theft and corporate greed differs only in scale.
Young workers comprise 16 per cent of the workforce but account for 25 per cent (27,000) of requests for help from the Fair Work Ombudsman. In 2016, just under half of the litigations involved young people. If Fair Work was properly resourced, prosecutions would double.
While many South Australian businesses pay their workers fairly and legally, during the past 20 years some employers, including in the trades, hospitality and agricultural industries, have ‘redistributed’ young workers’ pay into their own pockets.
Contrary to what employer groups say, most wage thefts are committed with forethought and by design.
In February this year, the SA Employment Tribunal awarded six Adelaide electrical tradesmen $55,145 in back pay and superannuation, after it found their employers had underpaid them. It fined the company $120,000.
Another local business was fined $73,425. It had underpaid seven employees for a decade. A recent Senate inquiry heard that some 7-Eleven franchises had forced recent migrant workers to pay back wages, even though there were no over payments.
Desperate young people are using labour hire companies to find work. They receive text messages the day before they are required to work, sometimes for just one shift. They can’t bargain for better conditions or gain security of employment to get a car or home loan.