Australia, Victoria. I worked there for 2 and a half weeks. On our interview he offered me to be there off books, so i could save as much money as possible and it didn't seem like the worst idea so i took it. We agreed on hourly rate of $17. After a week i asked for my pay and was informed that he pays his employees two weeks after they've started ( like you start on 1st of Jan so the pay for the first week you get at 14th Jan, very confusing) He said it had something to do with bank transfers and taxes but i was getting cash, that was the first red flag of wtf. Anyway fast forward - that whole thing was 2 months ago. When i left he owed me 2 weeks worth of pay and promised to get me that 2 weeks after my last workday. THAT was a month ago. I've texted with him back and forth, me saying exactly what i'm expecting and him mostly ignoring me. BUT he has texted once in full what he has paid me and what is still missing and promised to transfer the missing part the same day. It never came. So can i use those texts against him to get my damn money? And who should i contact? I tried to be reasonable but this is bullshit.

  • I would suggest talking to your local community law center (a free service), and take it from there. They will be able to give you suggestions. – dwjohnston Mar 31 '16 at 8:24
  • My partner ended up in a horrible situation concerning under the table work in NZ .I advised her to not allow the debt to rack up too much .I think such debts are uncollectable unless you are really prepared to standover. – Autistic Mar 31 '16 at 8:48
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    Lets get this straight - you agreed to cheat the state out of taxes, and now are upset that you yourself got cheated. Who can you contact about this? Not many people really, if you yourself don't want to get into trouble as well, because those taxes you agreed to cheat the state out of go toward protecting workers rights in the first place... – Moo Mar 31 '16 at 8:54
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    No contract, and not on the books. You are most likely out of luck. – Magisch Mar 31 '16 at 9:02
  • Just be sure to save all the emails and text you got. – Dan Mar 31 '16 at 12:05

This will be messy to try and resolve. You were working under the table, which is basically a trust situation. You should have seen the writing on the wall when you didn't get paid the first week.

You have two pragmatic choices from my point of view in addition to Janes suggestion.

Firstly put it down to experience and take the loss.

Secondly, go in and confront the boss and demand your money, I had to do this once and I did it at his workplace and in front of his workers. It wasn't something I was happy doing, but it got me my money.

Unfortunately texts are easy to ignore. When someone texts they've already paid you, that muddies the waters even more in terms of you using the texts. Perhaps you can get him in trouble if that makes you happier. In my case I just wanted my money.

In future bear in mind that under the table jobs can be difficult to collect on, you're dealing with someone who is willing to bend the law and honesty in the first place. Most of my work like this has been fine (I did a lot of casual labour in my younger days). But it doesn't always work out so well and there's often a sort of standoff when it comes to paying even in a good situation.


Given you have no written contract, then it's your word against your boss's. However, you should take it up with the Fair Work Australia Ombudsman if you feel you have been dealt with unfairly by your employer.

Note that your intention of "staying off the books" may be something that will get both you and your employer in trouble once this gets aired to the government and the ATO.

(Note I'm Australian)

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