Wage Theft Calculator: Georgian Workers Report Over 21 Million GEL in Stolen Wages Annually

28 Jan, 2021

The Georgia Fair Labor Platform has released initial data* from its Wage Theft Calculator, showing that 87% of users have been the victim of wage theft.

The Calculator is an online tool that helps users understand wage theft and calculate how much money they might be losing. It classifies “wage theft” as an employer’s failure to pay any money legally owed to an employee, such as unpaid overtime, unpaid tips, illegal salary deductions and more.

The figures released today cover the Calculator’s first 50 days since its 9 December 2020 launch, during which 2,709 people used the tool. Users reported a combined loss of 21,756,487 GEL (6,582,900 USD) annually – an average of 8,031 GEL (2,430 USD) per person annually, or 669 GEL (202 USD) per person, per month.

“The figures suggest that wage theft is so widespread in Georgia that it is basically normalized,” said Sopo Japaridze, representative of the New Confederation of Independent Unions (NCIU). “Employers don’t think twice about it because there are no repercussions. They can order employees to work extra hours without pay, deny them vacation, and reduce their salary for perceived infractions.”

“The Labor Inspectorate needs to urgently prioritize prevention and elimination of wage theft practices during its workplace inspections. If offending employers are not punished, the practice will simply continue unchecked.” said Vako Natvlishvili representative of the Open Society-Georgia Foundation.

The most commonly reported form of wage theft was off-the-clock work, defined as mandatory work that is not counted as part of normal working hours. A total of 78% of users reported performing off-the-clock work without additional pay. Commonly cited examples include:

  • Time spent changing into protective gear or a uniform: 36% of users said they were required to do so, but 52% of them were not paid
  • Preparation work required to do the job: 67% required to do so, but 86% of those said they were not paid
  • Mandatory meetings or training sessions: 48% required to participate, with 80% of those not paid
  • Working through breaks: 48% said they were required to do so without receiving extra pay

Similarly, 34% of users reported being forced to work overtime without being paid for it. Under Georgian law, employees must be paid extra for any work beyond 40 hours per week (or 48 hours in some industries). Moreover, the hourly rate for overtime work must be greater than the normal hourly rate. Roughly 89% of users said that their employment contracts did not specify an overtime rate.

The failure to provide paid vacation was another frequently reported violation. Under Georgian law, workers who have been with their employer at least 11 months are entitled to 24 days of paid leave. But 57% of vacation-eligible users reported deviations from this requirement, ranging from no vacation being given at all to not being allowed to use all 24 days.

Other findings of note:

  • In the service industry, two-thirds of respondents whose employers collected tips said they don’t receive any of the money.
  • One-fourth of those who had left their jobs said they did not receive some or all of their final salary payment after departure.
  • More than 14% reported unlawful deductions from their salaries, for perceived infractions such as missing inventory, alleged theft and performance issues.

* All data is self-reported by users of the Wage Theft Calculator. The Fair Labor Platform does not independently verify individual users’ claims.

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