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Owed Money? What to Do When Your Employer Does Not Pay Wages

If your employer owes you unpaid wages, there are certain steps you could take to recover your wages.



The first step would be to determine whether you are considered as an employee or a contractor. In answering this question, the totality of the relationship and all factors would be considered, including (please kindly note this article is about the methods to recover wages if you are considered as an employee, if you are considered as a contractor, you may be able to recover payments under the protections of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act, which we may also assist on):

  • The degree of control over how and when the work is done;

  • Hours of work;

  • Expectation of ongoing work;

  • Assumption of financial risk;

  • Who provides tools and equipment;

  • Method of payment;

  • Leave entitlements;

  • Ability to work for other companies;

  • Right to delegate or subcontract.


Some examples of characteristics of an employee would be being paid by an hourly rate rather than being paid by the completion of a task at a fixed rate, and working at the same site/location.


The second step may be to issue a Letter of Warning to your employer. The letter could be used to notify your employer of the outstanding amount of wages. The letter could also indicate that if the employer does not pay the outstanding wages, then the matter will be submitted to the Fair Work Commission for handling.


If your employer does not respond to the Letter of Warning or refuses to pay the outstanding wages, an application could be lodged with the Fair Work Commission.


Please kindly note that generally, the absence of a valid Australian visa will not prevent an employee from claiming unpaid wages, because the Fair Work Commission considers valid visas and work rights as areas outside of its power.


Documents you could provide to our firm for our review so we may provide you with assistance include:

  • Employment contract (containing information such as hourly rates, your detailed job duties, what benefits you are entitled to);

  • Timesheets (it would be best if they are signed by the employer or supervisor);

  • Payslips.