Seven in ten working women aged under 25 have experienced wage theft: UnionsACT report

UnionsACT has today released a report into the experiences of young women in Canberra workplaces, finding that exploitation, bullying and harassment, discrimination and wage-theft are widespread and structural.

More than 220 young workers aged under 25 years were surveyed earlier this year, in-person and online. The survey’s findings are included in the new report: ‘Sick of It: What young women feel about wage-theft, harassment and casualised work’.

The main findings in the report include:

  • Over half of young women are employed casually, and more young women than men are employed casually.
  • Almost seventy percent (67.7%) of young women had experienced wage-theft in the past 12 months.
  • Almost a third (27.4%) of young women had been bullied or harassed by their employer in the past 12 months.
  • Over half (53.7%) had delayed visiting the doctor because of the cost in the past 12 months, and 46.2% had delayed filling a prescription or buying medicine due to the cost.

The report is available online here.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“There is a serious problem in Canberra’s workplaces, where adult employers think it is okay to exploit, harass and steal wages from young women who work for them.

“The gender pay-gap starts from the moment young women enter the workforce, and young women experience greater levels of wage-theft than young men.

“This report must be a wake-up call for businesses, politicians and regulators. It is not acceptable for young women to experience bullying and harassment at work, or to be threatened with the sack if they complain about unsafe work.

“It is clear that the workplace laws that should protect young women are rigged against them and need to be changed. There is a structural problem and a problem of sexism and discrimination.

“More than half of all union members in Canberra are women, and improving the rights and protections for young women at work is a key priority for the union movement.”