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Australia – The international embarrassment

UnderpaymentsJanuary 19, 2015

Australia – The international embarrassment (Last Updated On: January 19, 2015)

Did you know that international education is Australia’s third largest export earner? International students who travel to Australia to study make up a fundamental industry worth “16 billion per year”. All international students must acquire a student visa to enter the country and many of these visas have particular working restrictions.

Studying internationals have a maximum number of hours they can work a week while studying. This maximum is 40 hours, however there has been an abundance of Australian businesses not abiding by this, threatening the students legal status in the country and consequently they are deported. Australia’s safe and idyllic reputation is steeply diminishing and the international education industry is under threat.

If we are to protect Australia’s billion dollar industry we need to begin with sorting out the employment relations problems in the Australian hospitality industry. Many internationals who come to Australia gain jobs working in restaurants and cafes. These students are exploited because small businesses are not abiding by the Fair Work Act or are unaware of their employment obligations when hiring international students.

In 2012 The Fair Work Ombudsman put together a specialised team to combat the trending problem and established a benchmark for stamping out underpayments. Last financial year the FWO managed to recover $1.1 million in underpaid wages for over 700 international students.

This week a girl was interviewed by Fairfax Media for an article on the exploitation of students working in Sydney restaurants, she said that she got a job working in a Malaysian restaurant because it made her feel “connected to her home country” she graduated from Sydney university but struggled to pay her rent and bills whilst she lived in Australia. As a result her overall experience here was compromised.

Some workers have been paid as little as $8 an hour and this does not meeting the minimum wage requirement of $16.87.  The low hourly wage as a result forces students to work more hours breaking the guidelines of their visas.

It is time for employers to “treat our fee-paying guests with care and respect, we must question what our values as Australians are”.

Small business owners who hire international students may be investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman and face the possibility of paying ghastly fines and back payments. If you would like to review your current business operations and employment conditions call Employsure today. We can support you and change your business so that you meet all employment obligations set out in the Fair Work Act. It is a time consuming and often confusing task for a small business owner. So call us today on 1300 651 415 and avoid employment claims against you.

*Information sourced via Fairfax Media.

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