CASHED UP: The Saver Plus program will help you keep more of this in your back pocket.
CASHED UP: The Saver Plus program will help you keep more of this in your back pocket. AAP/JOEL CARRETT

Cash-payment crackdown to fight worker exploitation

IT'S an all too common experience for Australia's workforce, particularly for those in the retail, hospitality and labour-for-hire industries.

After a hard day's work, payment comes in the form of a handshake and a few crisp notes and you're sent on your way.

The same can be said for a number of businesses who only accept payment through cash, avoiding EFP fees and (potentially) allowing them to get by without paying their tax properly. 

For many small businesses employing young inexperienced staff, navigating through the correct channels can be a challenging, convoluted and time-consuming process. 

But by streamlining things, the Board of Tax is arguing, nearly $15 billion in unpaid revenue has gone missing. 

As reported by Fairfax earlier this week, attempts to combat this "Shadow Economy" will form part of the upcoming Federal Budget, with a report helmed by Board of Tax chairman  Michael Andrew.

In addition to the economic hit cash-only payments can have, there's also the regular exploitation of workers - particularly young students visiting from overseas. 

Labour-for-hire businesses make regular use of this workforce for things like fruit-picking and abbatoir work. 

It's this industry, Mr Andrew says, that's the worst offender, drastically underpaying employees to remain competitive. 

"A lot of them are innocent, but are of them are cheating as well," he says.

So how do you fill a $15 billion hole in the economy? That's still to be determined.

After all, it's still the main way Australians pay for low-level transactions, even with the rates of electronic payment rising steadily. 

One of the options being put forward is a restriction on cash payments, putting a cap on the amount that can be actually be paid with physical money. 

Meanwhile, the Australian Tax Office will continue to monitor for tax cheats, hoping developments in technology will allow them to better identify wrongdoing business owners and employees. 

Have you ever worked in cash-only workplace? Did you feel you were paid a reasonable amount? Or did you feel your labour was being exploited? We want to hear about it, send your information to and we'll get in contact with you shortly.