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Underpayments are not the Australian way

UnderpaymentsJanuary 25, 2016

Underpayments are not the Australian way (Last Updated On: January 25, 2016)

A Nepalese student has claimed she was underpaid more than $23,000 whilst working at a take away food outlet simply because she was ‘not an Aussie’.

The 27 year old international student from Nepal was employed as a casual staff member at the Health Express take-away food outlet at DFO South Wharf in Melbourne. She claims her employer told her she would be paid a flat rate of $12 an hour because she was not Australian. Her employer also threatened to cancel her visa if she sought help from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

The underpaid worker alleged that in her interview with Health Express owner, Jeffery Herscu, he made it clear he would pay her less due to her being an overseas worker.  “When I came for the interview, he said I will give you the job, but as you are not an Aussie, I will be paying you a lesser amount,” she told the FWO.

Upon investigation, the FWO found the internal student was short changed more than $23,500 between September 2013 and March 2015. The casual employee should have been paid up to $23.15 an hour for normal work, up to $27.78 on Saturdays, up to $32.41 on Sundays and up to $50.93 on public holidays.

After assistance from the FWO the student returned to Nepal for several weeks to care for her sick father, only to find she had been removed the work roster upon her return to Melbourne.

A second male student, from India, was also paid a flat rate by Health Express, resulting in an underpayment of more than $27,300. Both students were entitled to a uniform allowance of $1.25 a shift, which they never received. The male employee also did not receive his correct annual leave entitlements at the end of his employment.

Mr Herscu has co-operated with the FWO and agreed to apologise and back-pay the $50,000 owed to his two former employees.  FWO Natalie James says Mr Herscu and his company have been asked to sign an Enforceable Undertaking aimed at encouraging behavioural change.

Employsure knows that this case shows a serious breach in workplace equality as it is unlawful under the Fair Work Act to discriminate against employees on the basis of race, pregnancy, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental disability, family and career’s responsibilities, marital status, religion, political opinion or social orientation.

Employsure can assist employers with ensuring their workplace is equal and fair, so contact us today on 1300 651 415. We can advise on all matters regarding employee entitlements and the correct wage rates applicable to your business.

Sourced via the Fair Work Ombudsman

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