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Wage theft is now a crime (VIC)

On 1 July 2021, it became a crime for an employer in Victoria to:

  • deliberately underpay employees

  • dishonestly withhold wages, superannuation or other employee entitlements

  • falsify employee entitlement records to gain a financial advantage

  • avoid keeping employee entitlement records to gain a financial advantage

These crimes are punishable by a fine of up to $218,088 or up to 10 years’ jail for individuals and a fine of up to $1,090,440 for companies.

The offences apply to employers and to ‘officers’ of that employer. Which roles are considered ‘officers’ depends on the entity type of the employer, but it generally applies to roles that have significant decision-making responsibilities within a business, such as:

  • directors

  • office holders

  • partners

  • people who may make substantial business decisions on behalf of the employer

Wage theft offences involve deliberate and dishonest conduct. Honest mistakes made by employers who exercise due diligence in paying wages and entitlements are not considered wage theft.

Employers must provide their employees with at least the minimum pay and conditions outlined in the relevant award, workplace agreement, contract of employment or legislation and keep employee entitlement records.

Victoria’s wage theft laws don’t impose new record-keeping obligations on employers. Various pieces of legislation already require employers to keep employee entitlement records, including about allowances, annual leave and long service leave. The wage theft laws make it a crime to deliberately falsify these records or fail to keep them to gain a financial advantage or prevent the exposure of a financial advantage.

If you have underpaid an employee, you should fix this as soon as possible.

For more information or tailored assistance, please contact us today.


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