Five years ago, what did you imagine when someone mentioned ‘wage underpayment’?
You may have pictured an ugly image of exploited vulnerable workers in well-known non-compliant sectors. Visa workers on the harvest trail, franchise arrangements or fast food workers paid being paid rates like $8, $12, $15 per hour.
That was certainly the picture that I saw every day as Fair Work Ombudsman.1 We commonly investigated cases of workers being paid well below the minimum wage in what was blatant non-compliance.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) rightly prioritised serious enforcement action when confronted with this deliberate conduct.
All this is still happening. And still a priority for FWO. But a couple of years ago something else began to emerge…