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Are internships sinking down under?

UnderpaymentsJune 8, 2016

Are internships sinking down under? (Last Updated On: June 8, 2016)

A regional NSW takeaway food outlet is facing court over allegations they deliberately exploited three overseas workers by using an unlawful internship program.

Kjoo Pty Ltd operates Masaki, a sushi outlet in Stockland Shellharbour Shopping Centre near Wollongong. The sushi outlet’s manager and part owner, Hyo Jun Kwon, who reportedly ran this program, is also facing legal action over his involvement in the underpayments of the three employees who came to Australia on 417 work holiday visas.

The young female workers all spoke very little English and were supposedly underpaid more than $51,000. Masaki used an accountant to create false pay records, which were used for deliberately covering up the extent of the overseas workers’ underpayments.

Mr Kwon and Masaki entered in to an unlawful internship program with a private Korean college where two of workers had recently graduated and where one was still studying, the Busan Institute of Science and Technology.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) claims the internship agreement was not authorised under law or administrative agreements. This meant the work the employees undertook was not a formal part of their college studies.

While working at Masaki the workers were paid a flat rate of between $12 and $13.50 for all hours worked, when they were entitled to receive the minimum wage applicable under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010. Their wages were also unlawfully deducted to cover costs for their accommodation.

In similar news, a Sydney based media company has been fined $272,000 over the underpayments of two event co-ordinators. One of the co-ordinators was found by the FWO to have completed over 180 hours for an alleged internship, which again was not related to their tertiary studies.

If you are an employer who currently supports interns and you are unsure if you are following the correct protocol, call Employsure today on 1300 651 415. Employsure can answer any questions you may have in regards to hiring and utilising interns.

Sourced from the Fair Work Ombudsman and Smart Company

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