Vulnerable Workers Legislation Passes Through Senate

BY Australian Retailers Association
11 September 2017

The Senate last Monday (September 4)  passed tough new laws that will see penalties of up to $630,000 for employers who knowingly underpay their employees.

These laws will also see franchisors and holding companies held accountable for any breaches of employment laws by their franchisees and subsidiaries.


The Vulnerable Workers Legislation gives the Fair Work Ombudsman new investigative powers.

The ARA understands that most employers put in a lot of time and effort to understand and comply with their complex obligations under Australian employment law. Any employer who knowingly underpays not only harms their employees, but gains an unfair advantage over their competitors, harming the vast majority of business owners who do the right thing.

It is important these new investigation powers and penalty provisions are used in a targeted way, and only in the most serious and repeated cases of non-compliance.

The ARA will work with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure these new laws are approached in a practical way. Australia has one of the most complex systems of workplace relations in the world.

Lengthy and prescriptive industrial awards as well as overlapping legislated standards means there is a high risk of inadvertent error.

The ARA encourages all employers to familiarise themselves with their obligations and to seek advice and assistance from the ARA employment law team on 1300 368 041 (option 1)

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Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit or call 1300 368 041.

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