Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 25 October 2018) . . Page.. 4269 ..
something that workers have in common is that they are at risk of having their wages stolen. These practices are even occurring on ACT government jobs. Two recent audits by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that 40 per cent of businesses in the ACT are not compliant with the Fair Work Act. This year there have been numerous allegations of wage theft on government projects, including the current construction site across from this place. On the light rail project we have seen massive allegations of wage theft against at least 84 workers. It is thanks to the CFMEU that this case has been brought to light. In the cleaning industry, United Voice has found that 60 per cent to 70 per cent of school cleaning contractors are conducting themselves unlawfully and incorrectly paying their employees. This is disgraceful.
It is clear that there are companies in Canberra who do not respect the law and do not respect their workers. At first the jobs code will target industries that we have seen have high levels of exploitation but also industries that undertake government work. This will be in the fields of construction, cleaning, security and traffic management. Taxpayer money should not be going to these unscrupulous businesses, and that is why we need this jobs code.
The opposition and the MBA have spread misinformation about this jobs code. The code will only increase costs for companies if they were previously underpaying their workers. That is a cost I am very happy for companies to be paying. These companies already disobey the law, so our strategy to combat these practices must target the profitability of these companies. Affecting their profit margin will get these companies to start taking the law seriously and pay their workers correctly. They say that this code puts an unnecessary burden on small and family businesses. Well, paying workers correctly is not a burden; it is the bare minimum. If businesses cannot do that, they should not exist.
This jobs code will not just benefit workers who are being ripped off; it will also benefit those employers who are doing the right thing. They will no longer have to compete with dodgy bosses who cut corners for government contracts.
The standards set by the government will also help raise standards in non-government contracts, as workers and clients will have a framework to reference. This will mean that across the territory standards will be lifted. This is a win-win. This will be achieved through the job certificate program. The certification program will test employer compliance with workplace obligations. To tender for government jobs, contractors will have to possess a secure jobs certificate. The certification process would also include more adequate training and inductions on workplace safety and employee rights. The code will make it easier for companies to clearly see their obligation to their work, the government and the wider population. The opposition like to call this red tape, but clear guidelines will make it easier for companies and workers to understand their rights and obligations. This is common sense.
This code will also make it easier for workers to get back their entitlements or stolen wages. Currently, going through the Fair Work Act can take around two years, which can put enormous financial strain on workers and their families. For companies to get government work under this code, they will need to respond to and rectify any