Vic workers reclaim $1m long service leave

·2-min read

Thousands of Victorian workers got back a total of $1 million in unpaid long service leave in the state wages watchdog's first year of operation.

The Wage Inspectorate helped more than 15,000 employees and businesses across the state in its first 12 months, according to the Andrews government.

It investigated multiple cases, including the plight of 295 workers who claimed they were underpaid on their long service leave and helped them recoup about $310,000.

Additionally, the inspectorate was involved in several court matters, including one against supermarket giant Coles which resulted in more than 4000 workers being paid back about $700,000 in long service leave.

It also checked more than 7700 work permits issued to employers taking on children under the age of 15.

The inspectorate's child employment team conducted nearly 330 compliance checks and investigations, along with almost 100 field visits, and sent nearly 200 letters to businesses advising them of the law.

In one case, a travelling circus faced court and pleaded guilty to three charges after it employed Chinese nationals as acrobats without a mandatory child employment permit.

One of the child employees was hospitalised for 10 days after they were hit by a trapeze, the government said.

"The Wage Inspectorate provides a vital service to workers and businesses - it helps employers navigate state workplace laws and ensures workers are supported with information about their rights," Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said on Tuesday.

The workers most likely to call on the wage inspectorate in its first 12 months were in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing and service industries.

About 3000 calls came from employers trying to understand their obligations.

"We're aiming to have an even bigger impact over the next 12 months through our intelligence-led compliance activities, prosecutions and the release of new educational tools to make complying with the law even easier," Wage Inspectorate Commissioner Robert Hortle said.

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