Luke Foley pledges to tackle 'wage theft'

Jodie Stephens and Julian Drape
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NSW Labor leader Luke Foley has promised he will crack down on 'wage theft' if elected premier.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley has promised he will crack down on 'wage theft' if elected premier.

Individual employers who commit "wage theft" by underpaying their staff would face jail time under a future NSW Labor government, Opposition Leader Luke Foley has vowed.

Companies could also face "punishing" fines under the proposed legislation, which would "criminalise the deliberate failure to pay wages and entitlements" including superannuation.

Mr Foley told the NSW Labor state conference that if the ALP wins the 2019 state election it would eliminate the exploitation of workers by companies such as 7-Eleven, Domino's, Pizza Hut and United Petroleum.

"Our laws won't apply to genuine mistakes," the Labor leader told delegates on Saturday.

"Employers who do the right thing will benefit as they won't be competing with under-cutting cheats.

"But we'll go after that minority whose business model is based on exploitation."

A Labor state government would also overhaul laws to make head franchisors liable for employment conditions in their networks, and widen the powers of workplace inspectors to recover unpaid wages and entitlements.

A licensing scheme for labour hire companies would include a fit and proper person test for operators, owners and directions, Mr Foley said.

The opposition leader also promised to legislate to protect Sunday penalty rates in state awards and agreements.

The conference on Saturday afternoon unanimously backed the introduction of 10 days paid domestic violence leave "as a universal right for all workers".

Delegates endorsed a motion by the Australian Services Union for the domestic violence leave to be enshrined in the national employment standards and relevant state legislation.

The move puts pressure on federal Labor leader Bill Shorten to commit to 10 days leave if the party was to win power nationally.

Federal Labor in 2015 promised it would legislate for five days family violence leave.

In a speech described by Senator Sam Dastyari as a "load of sanctimonious bulls***", senior union official Tim Ayres criticised the decision to have former senator Graham Richardson deliver the life members' address on Sunday.

Before then Mr Shorten will take centre stage to outline federal Labor's approach to tax while detailing a new policy on family trusts.