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Indian-origin restaurant operator penalised for underpaying temporary visa-holder cook

The image is for representation only. Source: Pixabay

Fair Work Ombudsman says the linguistically and culturally diverse business owners exploiting visa-holders is a matter of concern.

An Indian-origin part-owner and manager of a Brisbane restaurant has been penalised by Court for underpaying an overseas worker more than $5000.

Jasbir Kaur Ghag operated Rue de Paris restaurant in Milton until last year where she underpaid a casual cook a total of $5355 between October 2007 and April 2009.

The Federal Circuit Court penalised her $2640 for her role in the underpayment of the visa-holder cook who at the time was in Australia on a bridging visa. The Japanese national is now a permanent resident of Australia.

The employee was paid rates of between $9.25 and $11.70 an hour but was entitled to receive $18.43 an hour under the Agreement that applied to workers at the restaurant.

After the worker lodged a request for assistance, the Fair Work Ombudsman investigated and the worker was subsequently back-paid.

However, the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action because it had previously put Ghag on notice to pay workers correctly when investigating requests for assistance from other workers.

The Court found that Ghag knew that she was paying the worker less than she was entitled to and that her conduct was deliberate.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says she is increasingly concerned about the number of matters where visa-holders are underpaid by culturally and linguistically diverse business owners.

“While I understand there are cultural challenges and different laws in other parts of the world, it is incumbent on all businesses operating in Australia to understand and apply Australian laws. To that end, the Fair Work Ombudsman is here to help with free advice and resources in a range of languages,” Ms James said.

In the 2015-16 financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered just over $3 million for all visa-holders and 38 of the 50 litigations (76 per cent) filed involved a visa-holder.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

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