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Migrant receives $52k after reporting employer for wage theft

Source: Supplied

Bhumika Aneja urges fellow migrants to know their working rights after she was cheated out of thousands of dollars.

29-year-old Bhumika Aneja is determined to take her former employer to court if her unpaid wages are not paid back in full.

Ms Aneja arrived in Melbourne on a spouse visa in March 2014.

After looking for work for three months, she finally got a job at an Indian grocery store in Melbourne's south-east.

"I was looking for work and had no experience. When I got work at this local Indian grocery store, I felt I will learn customer interaction skills so I took it up," Ms Aneja told SBS Hindi.

The full-time job paid $16.50 an hour but she wasn't receiving any payslips. Ms Aneja said she raised the issue of underpayment and the missing payslips with her employer throughout the duration of her employment before finally quitting in February 2017. Two and a half years after she began working at the grocery store. 

Ms Aneja, who was responsible for handling the store's cash, further claimed the employer would often deduct money from her salary whenever there was a till shortage. 

"It is illegal to do that," she said. 

"I had no payslips and was underpaid. I wasn't paid my superannuation either. I was told point-blank that they did not give any annual leave or sick leave. I quit my job and complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for underpayment and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for my unpaid superannuation." 

Bhumika Aneja
Supplied

With help from her husband, she went to the Australian authorities.

After receiving assistance from FWO and ATO, Ms Aneja's former employer gave her what she was owed: $42,000 in unpaid wages and $10,000 in superannuation.

But her fight isn't over yet. 

"He still needs to pay $10,000 in unpaid wages which he hasn't. I am determined to take him to court if he doesn't".

According to Ms Aneja, she isn't the only migrant who has been taken advantage of in Australia, and urged recent-arrivals to know their working rights and not be afraid to take on employers. 

"Many of my ex-colleagues at the same store are underpaid but they are afraid to speak up as they feel their visa status will be affected," she said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman provides free advice and assistance to all workers to help them understand their rights. Migrant workers and visa holders, including international students, have the same workplace rights as Australian-born workers.

Learn more about working rights in Australia, here.

If you think you're being exploited at work, or are an employer or employee seeking assistance, visit the www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Are you being underpaid at work? Write to us at mosiqi.acharya@sbs.com.au

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