* The federal government will introduce a new criminal offence for the most egregious examples of wage theft

* It will apply to national system employers that deliberately underpay one or more workers

* The new offence will carry a maximum penalty of four years’ jail and fines of up to $1.1 million for individuals and $5.5 million for companies

* People convicted of wage theft would be disqualified from managing companies for five years

* The criminal offence will not apply to one-off underpayments, inadvertent mistakes or miscalculations


* For most underpayments the maximum penalty will increase by 50 per cent to almost $20,000 for individuals and $99,900 for companies including small business

* Medium businesses face penalties of either two times the underpayment or $99,900 – whichever is higher

* Large businesses will face penalties of either three times underpayment or $666,600 – whichever is higher

* Small businesses will be exempt from the “benefit obtained” principle, which will also not apply to individuals

* Infringement notice fines and maximum penalties for sham contracting or failing to comply with a Fair Work Ombudsman compliance notice will increase by 50 per cent