Darwin cafes on notice after underpaying overseas workers

31 March, 2016 by
Danielle Bowling

Fair Work has revealed that two Darwin cafes have underpaid overseas workers thousands of dollars, with one shortchanging employees a total of $19,000.

In total, nine employees from countries including China, France, Taiwan and Italy were underpaid more than $23,000. Some of the workers were in Australia on 457 skilled worker visas while the others were on the 417 working holiday visa.

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At one caf, six individuals working as cooks, kitchen hands and wait staff were underpaid $19,000 between February and August last year. One worker wasn’t paid any wages for four of the six weeks’ work she performed, while the others were paid a flat rate of $20 an hour on weekdays and $25 on weekends and public holidays.

Under the Restaurant Industry Award, the employees should have received a minimum hourly rate of more than $21 on weekdays, $26 on weekends and $43 on public holidays.

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The second caf underpaid four casual staff $6,000, $4,300 of which was owed to three overseas workers including a French cook and a Taiwanese barista on 417 working holiday visas, as well as a French waitress on a partner visa.

The employees were underpaid their minimum wages and entitlements between December 2014 and January 2015.

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Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the employers narrowly avoided enforcement action by co-operating with inspectors and promptly rectifying the underpayments. However, both businesses have been educated about their workplace obligations, and according to Campbell future contraventions of workplace law will be treated very seriously.

Just yesterday, the Fair Work Ombudsman revealed that 223 businesses were found to have shortchanged 929 employees a total of $582,410, with one business owing its staff more than $35,000.

The underpayments were uncovered during the third and final stage of the Ombudsman’s three year National Hospitality Industry Campaign (2012-2015).