Employee underpayments are frequently cited as "wage theft". But the workplace regulator is increasingly dealing with a more literal version: employers coercing their staff to pay back chunks of their wages. Those targeted are primarily migrants, particularly when the leverage of being able to withhold visa support guarantees their compliance -- and often silence. And by the look of things, addressing it is not a government priority.

"Migrant workers tend to be more likely to fall prey to cash-back scams because they are often very desperate to find work," associate professor in law at the University of Adelaide Joanna Howe told Crikey.