Fair Work Ombudsman issues record penalties over café exploitation

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th February 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has issued record penalties of $532, 000 in an employee exploitation case involving a regional NSW café.

Two of the exploited workers were coerced into paying back part of their wages with the business owner telling one that he would kill him if he complained to anyone about having to give back money.

The owner of the café was penalised $88, 810 for his mistreatment of the employees and his company was fined $444, 1000, amounting to the record $532, 000 fine.

The Federal Court of Australia found that the café promised the workers, who were from overseas and on visas, salaries in excess of $50, 000 when they were first hired.

The workers however received less than award wage and were made to give money back, meaning they were effectively paid as little as $6 an hour.

The employees were threatened with losing sponsorship for their visas if they did not give the money back and one employee gave an affidavit stating the business owner said: “If anything happens to my business, I will kill you. If you complain to anyone, I will kill you cancel your visa.”

Penalties send clear message other business owners

Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, said the record penalties send a clear message that there are serious consequences for deliberately exploiting overseas workers.

“These record penalties are a big bow in the fight to stamp out deliberate exploitation of overseas workers in Australia,” said James.

“The minority of rogue employers in Australia intent on preying on the vulnerability of overseas workers should be warned that we will do everything in our power to pursue you and hold you to account,” she said.


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