SA Legal Services Commission Says More Than 50 Workers A Week Reporting Unfair Treatment

Published July 29, 2019 (last updated July 23, 2020) -

More than 50 South Australians are being unfairly treated at work, from underpayment wages to unlawful contracting, according to a report released by South Australia’s Legal Services Commission.

The report, according to the Adelaide Advertiser, says that the Legal Services Commission (LSC) received 2765 inquiries in the 2018/19 financial year, up from 2501 the previous year.

Commission spokesman Chris Bundy said that the 11% increase in received reports meant that about 50 South Australians – mainly underpaid, injured, young, casual or migrant workers – were calling into the LSC about workplace issues.

“People are often in the dark when it comes to their workplace rights, and that lack of knowledge can have terrible consequences for them and their families,” Bundy said.

“They can fall victim to workplace treatment that is illegal – especially if they are young workers or have limited English.”

Bundy also listed the biggest issues facing workers calling into the LSC.

They are underpayment of employee wages, the issue of workers rights at a business just gone bust, the interpretation of employment contracts, workplace injury claims and incorrect classification of employees as casual.

Prejudice shown to staff returning from an injury or an extended period of annual leave, and staff being pressured into taking sick leave instead of lodging an injury claim were two other issues listed by Bundy.

This report comes in the wake of several high-profile companies breaching the Fair Work Act. Earlier this month, a large Melbourne restaurant group was revealed to have underpaid their staff $7.8m over the last six years. This restaurant group was also found to have incorrectly classified their employees and failed to pay them proper entitlements, such as casual loading.

A growing issue, added Bundy, was the rise of “sham contracting”.

“These are situations where an employer pressures an employee to take out an ABN so they can be paid as a contractor rather than an employee,” he said.

“It means the worker misses out on lawful entitlements relating to wages, leave, superannuation and workers’ compensation.”

The Fair Work Commission recently agreed with Uber’s interpretation of the law, holding that their drivers were contractors and not full-time employees.

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