Two separate fast food venues have been found to have underpaid foreign workers in excess of $40,000.

The first restaurant, in Melbourne’s CBD, underpaid a Taiwanese backpacker, working on a 417 working holiday visa, almost $21,000 in five months. The employee was paid as little as $9 an hour when she was entitled to receive a minimum of $25.17 an hour for regular hours and up to $50.94 on public holidays.

Fair Work inspectors found that the restaurant adjusted its pay rate subject to its cash flow to ensure it maintained steady profit margins.

In a separate matter, another fast food outlet in Melbourne’s CBD has been found to have underpaid two Taiwanese employees $23,000. The female employees spoke no English and were paid a flat rate of $11 an hour, cash in hand, when they should have been receiving $23.15 for normal hours and up to $50.93 an hour for public holidays.

Both matters were investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman’s specialist Overseas Workers’ Team after the employees left their jobs and contacted the Agency to request assistance.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James said, “Employers simply cannot undercut the minimum lawful entitlements of their employees based on what they think the job may be worth, what the employee is happy to accept, what other businesses are paying, or what the job may pay in their country of origin.

“Underpaying vulnerable visa-holders who may have little or no English and limited understanding of their workplace rights is not acceptable.

“We take a dim view of any employer who seeks to profit by underpaying their staff, particularly vulnerable overseas workers. Workers who have come from overseas have the same rights as any other worker in Australia and should be treated with the same dignity and respect.”

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