fair work ombudsman

Foreign students and backpackers being underpaid in Australia

by Ray Clancy on February 11, 2019

in Jobs in Australia

Foreign students and backpackers in Australia are again being warned to speak out if they have jobs where they feel they are being underpaid or exploited after a café was penalised $257,000.

The 24 hour Café Baci in Melbourne was fined by a court after it was found that 54 workers were underpaid, including 25 from overseas, including French, Italian and Indian students and working holiday makers.

Underpaid Worker

(By Leroy Harvey/Shutterstock.com)

The penalties came after the Fair Work Ombudsman took legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against owner Len Di Pietro and Ital One Holdings, after it was found that there were infringements relating to pay, overtime rates, casual loadings, and penalty rates for weekend, public holiday, late night and early morning work.

One visa holder was aged just 19 at the time of the underpayments where the students and working holiday makers worked as waiters, kitchen hands, chefs and in other roles.

‘All workers in Australia have the same rights at work, regardless of citizenship, and we will continue to take businesses who underpay migrant workers to court,’ said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

She explained that students and working holiday makers, along with other overseas workers, should not be influenced by suggestions that if they speak up their visas will be void. ‘We have an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs where visa holders can contact us for help without fear of their visa being cancelled,’ said Parker.

The court heard that the company had broken workplace laws in substantially similar ways on three previous occasions in the recent past. ‘It is incumbent on anyone running a business, no matter how busy it is or how many staff it has, to ascertain the correct rates of pay for employees and have systems in place to ensure that the correct rates of pay are paid,’ said Judge Heather Riley.

Meanwhile, the FWO had also begun legal action against the operators of three Hero Sushi takeaway outlets in Canberra, Gold Coast and Newcastle, for allegedly underpaying 94 workers by $694,628 and allegedly creating false records to provide to Fair Work Inspectors during their investigation.

Many of the workers were young overseas workers, including Korean and Japanese nationals on international student and working holiday visas. Parker said the large number of employees allegedly underpaid in this matter was alarming and very serious conduct.

‘The FWO considers all allegations of worker exploitation seriously, particularly matters involving migrant workers who may have little understanding of their workplace rights or how to seek help. Employers who deliberately contravene Australia’s workplace laws will be found out and could face legal action and significant financial penalties from the Court,’ she pointed out.

‘The FWO urges overseas workers who are concerned about their wages or entitlements to contact us. All workers in Australia have the same rights at work, regardless of citizenship or visa status,’ she added.

{ 0 comments }

Thumbnail image for Young people will be a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman in Austraila

Young people will be a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman in Austraila

December 24, 2018 Jobs in Australia

The Fair Work Ombudsman in Australia is asking students, backpackers and other visa holders undertaking causal work in the coming year not to be afraid to speak out if they are underpaid. It has been active in 2018 in securing penalties against employers who deliberately take advantage of overseas workers. Going into 2019 the FWI […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for As more students move to Australia to study, warning is issued over rogue employers

As more students move to Australia to study, warning is issued over rogue employers

October 16, 2018 Jobs in Australia

Working in fast food restaurants is popular with students in Australia, but a workers rights organisation is warning those from overseas who may not be familiar with employer regulations not to be taken advantage of. The warning from the Fair Work Ombudsman comes after it announced it has begun legal action against a pizza outlet […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Foreign students left without any money due to sham employment contracts

Foreign students left without any money due to sham employment contracts

June 4, 2018 Jobs in Australia

Overseas students and backpackers who get work while in Australia by word of mouth of through friends are being urged to make sure they are not being employed by unscrupulous firms. The warning from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) comes after an investigation found a number of foreign students working as cleaners were underpaid by […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Students, backpackers and other foreign part time workers need to know about employment change

Students, backpackers and other foreign part time workers need to know about employment change

January 16, 2018 Jobs in Australia

The Fair Work Ombudsman in Australia is reminding overseas workers, especially students and backpackers who have part time employment, that there have been a number of changes which could affect their pay. In some sectors such as food and hospitality they are now entitled to overtime pay and if working less than a 38-hour week […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for As harvest season begins backpackers urged to make sure they know their rights

As harvest season begins backpackers urged to make sure they know their rights

December 18, 2017 Jobs in Australia

The Fair Work Ombudsman in Australia has issued a series of tips for backpackers and seasonal workers to help them understand their workplace rights and obligations while working on farms. As part of a three-year campaign to highlight the rights of people working in what is known as the harvest trail, covering everything from tomatoes […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Cleaning company fined for exploitation of working holiday visa workers in Australia

Cleaning company fined for exploitation of working holiday visa workers in Australia

December 5, 2017 Jobs in Australia

In Australia the summer season is now underway and it is a popular time for backpackers from around the world to visit on working holiday visas. But the Fair Work Ombudsman is warning those arriving and those planning their trips to Australia not to fall foul of unscrupulous employers who do not pay them enough […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Further advice given to students and backpackers about pay in Australia

Further advice given to students and backpackers about pay in Australia

November 28, 2017 Jobs in Australia

Officials in Australia are again warning backpackers and students working while in the country that they should be aware of unscrupulous employers paying them less than a legal wage. In the latest case to be highlighted by the Fair Work Ombudsman, the owners of a café and a shop in Melbourne are accused of paying […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Foreign students and workers can now report workplace issues in Australia more easily

Foreign students and workers can now report workplace issues in Australia more easily

September 29, 2017 Jobs in Australia

International students and immigrants in Australia whose command of English makes then afraid of reporting workplace issues can now do so in a number of different languages. It is well established that those who arrive to work in Australia, particularly from Asian countries, are open to exploitation in terms of pay and working hours and […]

Read the full article →