Fines—such as penalties for lateness—are illegal. Employers withholding part of a workers wages as a fine can face legal action by the worker to recover the wages.
Working bonds are legal—but only if returned to the worker. Bonds are like personal loans given by the worker to an employer to be returned when they finish working.
If the employer does not return the bond, they can face legal action by the worker to recover it. Courts can make orders that the bond be returned. Failure to respond to a court order can lead to action by the sheriff to enter the workplace and seize the assets of the owner, equal in value to the bond.
More information on bonds and fines can be found here.
NSW Industrial Relations laws give workers the right to take court action to recover lost earnings. You can get free advice from a community legal centre or by phoning SWOP on (02) 9206 2166. We can help with writing letters of demand for withheld earnings.
For more information on debt recovery and letters of demand, visit the Arts Law Centre of Australia.