The wage-theft crisis facing young workers

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 will be released later in June.

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.

Experienced wage-theft in the past 12 months in the ACT, aged under 25 years.

Key findings:

  • Experience of wage-theft has increased to 51% 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 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 with the most common reason for not doing so being fear of losing their job. Most young workers are casually employed.

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.

“It is disgraceful that we are seeing adult employers steal from the children who work for them.

“Our research shows that incidents of wage-theft continues to rise, in a context where the Federal Government gives amnesties to employers who steal superannuation.

“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.”

UnionsACT acknowledges that it works on the land of the Ngunnawal people, and we pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging. 

Authorised M Harrison for UnionsACT, 11 London Circuit, Canberra.

Scroll to Top