- What We Do
JobWatch was featured on ABC on 1 June 2022, commenting on a groundbreaking case in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia which has ruled that individuals, not just employers, can also now be named in small claims cases — applications to recover unpaid wages and entitlements up to $20,000.
June 01, 2022
“Now, vulnerable workers can name the person who employed them as a third party in their small claim applications – and have a much higher success rate of recovering their entitlements,” said Gabrielle Marchetti, principal lawyer at employment rights centre JobWatch.
The decision overturns a 10-year legal precedent and was made as part of a JobWatch underpayment case, which remains before the court and has been listed for further hearings in July.
In that case, eight international students alleged they were unpaid or underpaid, with amounts ranging between $675 and $7,256 each, for work that included cleaning, housekeeping and other duties related to accommodation.
Ms Marchetti described the decision as “groundbreaking” and said it meant more people would actually receive unpaid wages after a court order.
“In our view, this will result in greater access to justice,” she said.
“Too often, our clients in small claims matters have been hampered by having court orders made only against the employer and not against any accessories.”This has allowed company directors to avoid liability, in circumstances where they might deregister the company or shift assets from the company to another legal entity and thereby make it impossible for our clients to get the money that was ordered to be paid to them.”
But Ms Marchetti agreed the decision was not a silver bullet for recovering unpaid wages because individuals could still move money to avoid paying debts.
“But … it’s a move in the right direction, it is going to make it harder for employers to avoid paying what the court has said they need to pay,” she said.