Release type: Media Release


Better protection for vulnerable workers


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Senator for Western Australia

The Turnbull Government’s new protections for vulnerable workers come into effect today.

Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash, said the commencement of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 reflects the Turnbull Government’s tough approach to tackling worker exploitation in Australia.

"The Turnbull Government has acted to ensure that the widespread and systematic underpayment of workers we saw at 7-Eleven cannot happen again,” Minister Cash said.

"When someone abuses their power – whether it is union bosses intimidating small businesses, or dodgy employers exploiting vulnerable workers – the Turnbull Government will take action.”

The legislation prohibits ‘cashback’ arrangements, increases penalties for underpayment, creates a new penalty for serious contraventions involving deliberate and systematic underpayment of workers, set at ten times the usual penalty, holds culpable head offices accountable for underpayments and ensures the regulator has the power to swiftly prosecute such behaviour.

“The strengthened penalties in the Act will serve as a significant deterrent to unlawful practices and ensure unscrupulous employers think twice before ripping off their workers,” Minister Cash said.

To ensure that businesses are prepared for the new laws, the provisions applying to culpable head offices will commence on 27 October 2017.

Employers and employees seeking assistance with workplace concerns can visit or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.