This state just launched a legal unit to combat wage theft

It will provide 'additional assurance' that government suppliers meet employment obligations

This state just launched a legal unit to combat wage theft

The Western Australian government has established a new Supplier Wage Audit (SWA) unit to address wage theft and ensure that government suppliers are compliant with their obligations to employees. Established within the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS), the unit will focus on contracts for services, subject to the Procurement Act 2020, that target high-risk industries such as cleaning and security.

"This represents another step towards combating wage theft and is an important part of this government's overall public sector reform election commitments," Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said.

Since Nov. 11, the SWA has been given the power to conduct audits and verify compliance. Non-compliant suppliers will be referred to the appropriate regulator, according to the DMIRS. The department added that the establishment of the SWA will provide "additional assurance" that government suppliers are compliant with their employment obligations.

State agencies are now mandated to insert clauses in contract documentation to ensure that the SWA can audit government suppliers, according to the Department of Finance. These clauses have been added to goods, services, and community services procurement templates so permit referrals in cases of non-compliance are also enabled.

"Strengthening goods, services, community services and works procurement with these clauses is an important strategy for combating wage theft, particularly in high-risk industries," Finance Minister Tony Buti said. "The changes to whole-of-government procurement templates help to ensure that government suppliers comply with employment and industrial relations obligations for their employees."

In July, the government also introduced a gender equality clause to the public sector procurement processes, meaning that interested suppliers applying for government contracts are mandated to prove that they meet gender equality reporting requirements.

"This initiative will use the purchasing power of the State Government to ensure companies are playing their part to address gender inequality in the workplace," said Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk.

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