WA non-compliance penalties to increase after 18 years

Western Australia could be the next Australian state to introduce stricter employment protection laws after the Industrial Relations (IR) Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced into state parliament.

The amendments include providing workers with remedy to workplace bullying; introducing equal remuneration jurisdiction; and prohibiting an employer from forcing an employee to pay back part of their wages.

The state government will also hand more power to industrial inspectors to ensure employment compliance.

These changes came from recommendations made in the 2018 ministerial review of the state IR system and the 2019 inquiry into wage theft in Western Australia.

When the bill is passed, it will apply to all workers in the state IR system.

“Astoundingly, Western Australia’s employment laws do not currently apply to all employees in the State industrial relations system,” the state’s Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said.

“The penalties for non-compliance were last increased 18 years ago; this legislation will protect vulnerable workers, tackle wage theft and modernise WA’s employment laws.”

The review follows New South Wales’ amendments to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2020, wherein gross negligence by senior minors in charge of workers’ safety was listed as a category one offence, punishable with up to five years in jail.