Wage Theft Lawyers

I had an oustanding experience with Galbally Parker Lawyers, particularly with lawyers Ruth Parker, Candice Jackson, Thomas Bell and Natasa Poppen.

Ruth’s expertise and strategic approach were impressive, navigating my case with ease. Candice’s dedication, clear communicationand understanding of my needsmade the process smooth and stress free.

The entire team exudes professionalism, creating a welcoming environment. Highly recommend for top-tier legal representation.

M Duhan, December 2023

At Galbally Parker, we specialise in providing legal defence for companies facing accusations of wage theft. Our team of experienced wage theft lawyers understands the complexities surrounding employment law and diligently works to protect the interests of businesses. With a focus on navigating through wage-related disputes, we are committed to offering strategic counsel to ensure a fair and balanced resolution. We pride ourselves on delivering comprehensive legal support to companies, to safeguard their reputation and interests in the face of wage-related challenges. If your company is dealing with accusations of wage theft, trust in our expertise to navigate the legal landscape and work towards a favourable resolution.

The Wage Theft Act 2020

The Victorian Government recently passed the Wage Theft Act 2020, which makes wage theft a criminal offence. Victoria is the first Australian state to criminalise this conduct. The move was prompted by increasing community concern, following high-profile cases of worker exploitation. In summary, wage theft occurs when:

  • an employer dishonestly underpays an employee; or 
  • an employer fails to pay out employee entitlements. 

While most employers try to do the right thing, the complicated nature of the legislation means that employers might not fully understand their obligations. Fortunately, the Act is not targeted towards inadvertent mistakes. Rather, the Act criminalises conduct where an employer dishonestly commits ‘employee entitlement offences.’ Employee entitlements relate to any amount payable by an employer to an employee, including wages, allowances, annual leave, long service leave and superannuation.

Pursuant to Section 6 of the Act, an employer has committed wage theft if they have withheld employee entitlements owing to their employee, either in whole or in part. Pursuant to Sections 7 and 8 of the Act, an employer also commits wage theft if they have falsified employee entitlement records or failed to keep employee entitlement records in order to obtain a financial advantage or to prevent a financial advantage from being exposed. As outlined above, the key aspect of this offending is the element of dishonesty. Whether or not an employer acted dishonestly is determined objectively – that is, according to the standards of a reasonable person.

These offences carry a maximum penalty of 6000 penalty units for a company (or 2500 penalty units if the company is found guilty in the Magistrates’ Court) or up to 10 years’ jail for individuals. 

Defences to Wage Theft

The Act allows for a defence to wage theft if the employer can establish that, before the alleged offence, the employer had exercised due diligence to pay or attribute the employee entitlements to the employee. Any evidence that the employer failed to comply with a requirement of a regulator is evidence that the employer had not taken all reasonable steps to pay or attribute the employee entitlements to the employee.

The Wage Inspectorate

The Act also established the Wage Inspectorate of Victoria to promote and enforce the Act. The Wage Inspectorate is the authority responsible for investigating and prosecuting wage theft offences. An inspector for the Wage Inspectorate has a wide range of powers available to them under the Act in relation to their investigations – including entry, search and seizure of an employer’s premises. Employers should note that it is an offence under Section 70 of the Act to give false or misleading material or information to an inspector. This offence carries a penalty of 1200 penalty units for a company or up to 2 years’ jail for individuals. A person is also not excused from producing a document required by an Inspector under section 48 of the Act without a reasonable excuse, even if that document would incriminate them in an offence. It is important that employers seek legal advice and representation at the earliest possible opportunity, so that they are fully informed of their rights and responsibilities under the Act.

The Inspectorate may issue employers with a notice, give advice to employees or accept an undertaking from an employer as an alternative to prosecution. Importantly, in serious cases of wage theft, the Inspectorate can prosecute the offence in Court.

Get in Touch with Galbally Parker Wage Theft Lawyers

Galbally Parker Lawyers has the necessary experience and knowledge required to assist employers who are concerned they may be, or have been, charged with wage theft offences. If you need advice, or you have been charged and need representation, call (03) 9670 8771 immediately. 


*Information on this page is accurate as of January 2024. This information may change at any time and so it is always important to get tailored and up-to-date legal advice.

Speak with an experienced wage theft lawyer

Galbally Parker Criminal Defence Lawyers