Employer Evasion of Workers’ Entitlements 1986-1995: Why, What and Whose?
AbstractEmployer non-compliance with workers’ entitlements has been largely ignored in Australian industrial relations. The legal and regulatory literature however, identifies arguments relating to employer propensity to evade regulatory requirements, as well as highlighting environmental factors that may influence such behaviour. This article explores these issues in the Australian federal industrial relations jurisdiction, as well as providing a picture of employer evasion of minimum labour standards between 1986 and 1995: who is exploited and in respect of what entitlements. Industry contexts and common characteristics of non-compliance are outlined by exploration of 30 awards ranked by the extent of underpayments recovered by the federal inspectorate during the period. Employer evasion of workers’ entitlements is arguably a calculated business decision, prompted or facilitated by intense competition, precarious employment (particularly female and youth), non-unionized workplaces and under-resourced enforcement agencies.