In March 2020 the AICD made a submission to the Victorian Government over a proposed Bill criminalising wage theft.
The Victorian government released a discussion paper with a very brief period for response, no text of the Bill has yet been released. A copy of the discussion paper is available here:
The AICD agrees that where there has been deliberate and dishonest theft of wages by an employer then that should amount to a criminal offence and that the normal criminal law around accessorial liability should apply.
However, we had a number of concerns with the Victorian government’s proposal as outlined in the submission paper as follows:
- it concerns matters that are within the jurisdiction of the Federal government and raises issues around conflict of laws;
- it seeks to attribute liability to directors in contradiction to the COAG Principles on director liability provisions;
- if an offence is to be introduced, a better approach would be to include a provision for accessorial liability such as currently exists under the Long Service Leave Act 2018;
- in the alternative, if a director liability provision is introduced it should be a Type 1 provision (as contemplated by the agreed COAG Principles on director liability) and not the Type 3 provision currently proposed; and
- the definition of dishonesty should align with s.9 of the Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001.
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