Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter. Picture: AAP
Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter. Picture: AAP

‘Name and shame’ plan for bosses who underpay

Companies which rip off workers could be forced to name and shame themselves with public signs and be banned from employing vulnerable migrants.

New measures being considered in Canberra to crack down on the underpayment of workers could also include company directors being disqualified from holding office.

Attorney General Christian Porter is set to bring legislation to parliament to make it a criminal offence to exploit workers - including fines and jail terms.

"Like most Australians, the government has been appalled by the number of companies that have recently admitted short-changing their staff, in some cases by hundreds of millions of dollars," Mr Porter said.

"While it's understood the vast majority of these underpayments were not deliberate and were rectified swiftly, they are incredibly serious and border on negligence, given we are talking about sophisticated organisations that should be capable of meeting their obligations under workplace law."

Attorney General Christian Porter. Picture: Getty
Attorney General Christian Porter. Picture: Getty

The Australian reported that Mr Porter has also expressed support for an ACTU proposal ­allowing individual workers to go to the Fair Work Commission to have underpayment claims dealt with quickly and efficiently.

"The Coalition has already ­increased some civil penalties by a factor of 10, but it is clear to me that more still needs to be done … such as disqualifying directors of organisations that continue to get it wrong," Mr Porter said.

The proposed changes come after celebrity chef George Calombaris was revealed to have underpaid his staff by millions of dollars.

George Calombaris. Picture: ABC/7.30
George Calombaris. Picture: ABC/7.30

His food empire is now on the brink of collapse.

More than 400 staff are set to remain in limbo as administrators try to find new owners to keep some of the 12 venues open.

Any deals are now expected to be announced by the creditors meeting on Thursday in Melbourne.

The door could still be ajar on several venues with ­buyer interest in Gazi and Jimmy Grants ­venues.

Calombaris' MAdE Establishment business last Monday appointed restructuring experts KordaMentha over 12 restaurants as it collapsed into voluntary administration.