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How to find your unpaid wages

A nice surprise could be waiting for some Australians on the unpaid wages search engine. (Image: Getty)

There is a stash of unpaid wages that Australians can claim, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

A spokesperson for the Ombudsman told Yahoo Finance that any Australians who suspect they were underpaid in a previous job should check its search engine.

"If you are eligible to make a claim, the FWO will provide free assistance with this process," the spokesperson said.

"The Fair Work Ombudsman is currently holding about $3.73 million in trust for around 11,500 people who were underpaid in a former job but cannot be located."

Wages can also be owed to staff members who left a business then changed their contact or banking details.

Sometimes a Fair Work Ombudsman may have investigated an employer for underpayment, or helped them identify issues during an audit.

The Ombudsman then holds money from those circumstances on behalf of the employee until they can be found.

The search engine for unclaimed wages is freely available to the public. 

"If your search shows we might be holding unpaid wages for an employee, the employee should contact us to claim the wages as soon as possible," stated the FWO.

The service comes after a torrid year for employee underpayments. 

Major retailers such as Woolworths (to the tune of $390 million), Coles ($20 million), Target ($9 million) and the parent company of Rebel Sport and Supercheap Auto ($61 million) have admitted short-changing their staff. 

The attorney-general even discussed in September the possibility of jail time for wage theft.

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