Underpayment means being paid less than what you are entitled to. Depending on where you work, this can mean being paid less than you are entitled to under the relevant award or agreement, or less than the national minimum wage.
Not paying entitlements such as superannuation or penalty rates is also a form of underpayment.
What to do if you think you are being underpaid
If you think that you are being underpaid, follow these steps:
- Find out how much you should be getting paid (including superannuation, penalty rates and other entitlements). If you’re not sure how to do this, the best thing to do is speak to your union.
- Compare what you should be paid to how much you’re actually being paid by reading your payslip.
- If you think that you are not being paid correctly get in touch with your workplace representative from your union to get advice on what to do.
In some cases a simple mistake with pay can be fixed quickly with your employer. However in many cases further action with your union might be required.
Deliberate underpayment is known as wage theft. Many employers deliberately underpay their employees as a way of increasing their profits.
Roughly one third of Australian workers are victims of wage theft each year. As well as exposing this illegal practice, the union movement is pushing for tougher laws to deal with wage theft.
Some state governments have committed to making wage theft a crime. In Victoria, new wage theft laws will come into effect in mid-2021. Under these laws, Victorian employers will face up to $1 million in fines and up to 10 years in jail if found guilty of wage theft.
If you want to contribute to the fight against wage theft, join your union.
Funding for this factsheet was provided by:
- the Victorian Government as part of the uTech project; and
- the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Please note that the information given here is general information only and is not legal advice. For further assistance, it is recommended you speak to your union.