ACT report: Young workers facing wage-theft crisis

More than half of young workers aged under 25 have experienced wage-theft in the past 12 months according to UnionsACT’s latest annual youth survey.

The survey of over 300 young people aged 14-24 was conducted in January 2019, and is the third annual survey of young ACT workers.

The full report is available here.

Wage-theft committed by employers against workers has increased from 44% in 2018 to 52% in 2019. This includes 20% of young workers who are children aged under 18.

Key findings:

  • Experience of wage-theft has increased to 52% for young workers aged under 25.
  • More young women experience wage-theft than young men, 55% compared to 50% of young men.
  • 20% of young workers (children) aged 14-17 have experienced wage-theft.

Despite over half of young workers experiencing wage-theft, only 25% reported trying to recover their stolen wages. The reasons include long and expensive legal processes, casualisation and fear of being sacked

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, Secretary of UnionsACT:

“Young workers are facing a wage-theft crisis, with a growing number of adult employers making the decision to steal wages from vulnerable young people.

“Our research shows that half of all young workers in Canberra had wages stolen from them in the past 12 months.

“Dodgy employers are increasingly taking the calculated risk when it comes to wage-theft that they won’t be caught, or if they are, there will be few consequences.

“The solution is to restore the rights of unions to represent workers quickly, simply and inexpensively in a specialised small-claims tribunal in the industrial magistrates court.”

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