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Young workers in Canberra are facing a crisis point, where over half of all workers aged under 25 had wages stolen by their adult employer in the past 12 months.

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Exploitation of young workers in Canberra is a crisis point, with over 50% of young workers experiencing wage theft. 
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The unavoidable conclusions of this report are:

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Young workers in Canberra are facing a wage-theft crisis

Over 50% of young workers have had wages stolen by their employer.

UnionsACT surveyed over 300 young people in Canberra in 2019.

  1. Exploitation of young workers is far too prevalent.
  2. Protections in the Fair Work Act and ACT laws are not working.
  3. There is significant under-reporting by young workers.
  4. Women and queer-identifying young people experience greater levels of exploitation.
  5. There are growing numbers of rogue employers who deliberately choose to steal wages from young workers.

Workers as young as fifteen have experienced wage-theft, severe exploitation, harassment and unsafe workplaces.

"My boss would bully me into working more hours and not pay me for them."

"My employer refused to increase my wage after I turned 15, and again after I turned 16 - they actually deducted $0.10c/ hour as a punishment."

"I've done about four different unpaid trial shifts. I was told I would be paid but I never was."

"5 days a week, 2 hours a day at a newsagency, for free! So they could "train" me."

The laws meant to protect young workers have failed.

The Fair Work laws at a Federal level, and the WHS Act and child protection laws in the ACT do not protect young workers. Wage-theft, exploitation and unsafe work practices is too easy, and penalties are too light. 

The legal avenues for young workers to access justice involve costly, drawn-out court processes that favour employers.

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Over  half  of all young workers have experienced wage theft in the past 12 months.

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