The National Retail Association (NRA) has attacked the Victorian Government for imposing unnecessary red tape on struggling small retailers as Australia enters its first recession in 30 years.

Earlier the Victorian Parliament passed the Wage Theft Bill 2020, despite staunch opposition from the small business community who argued that federal legislation already exists that adequately addresses the issue.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that burdening retailers with unnecessary regulation during the current period of economic turmoil only risks seeing more businesses and jobs hit the wall.

“No business should ever underpay their workers a single cent. Fortunately, there are already robust federal laws in place that address wage underpayment and this has been highlighted by several high-profile cases in recent times,” Ms Lamb said.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman has dealt with this matter on numerous occasions and the NRA supports them doing their job without the need for duplicate state legislation that may not even be constitutional.

“The Federal Treasurer, who incidentally is a Victorian, has confirmed that Australia is in its first recession since 1991. Now is not the time to be loading extra red tape onto the shoulders of struggling small businesses.

“There is no legislative gap, therefore any further regulation is just going to burden small business while not doing anything to safeguard workers from underpayment.

“The Victorian Government has sought to play politics at a time of economic catastrophe when instead it should be working with industry to keep everyday Australians in jobs.”