Newcastle campaign recoups $65,000 for underpaid workers

14 January 2010

The Fair Work Ombudsman has released the results of a targeted campaign aimed at ensuring foreign students working part-time in Newcastle are being properly paid.

Fair Work inspectors randomly audited 18 businesses known to employ international students, including restaurants, cafes, take-away food outlets and car wash sites.

The campaign followed allegations received from Newcastle Trades Hall suggesting many students were being underpaid.

It included an information session at the University of Newcastle for international students interested in learning more about their workplace rights.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says 11 of the 18 businesses selected for scrutiny were found to have contraventions - including eight which had been underpaying their staff.

Inspectors recovered $65,000 for 80 employees - an average of $812 each.

However, Mr Campbell said only a small number of foreign students were among those employees found to have been underpaid.

“Our findings suggest that more work is required in the Hunter Valley to educate and assist employers to understand their legal obligations to their workforce,” he said.

“While we found that most employers want to do the right thing, there is still a lack of understanding by many of their responsibilities – and that’s where we can help.”

Employers seeking assistance understanding the appropriate pay rates they need to pay staff should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 from 8am to 6pm weekdays or visit www.fwo.gov.au.

The Fair Work Ombudsman promotes harmonious, productive, co-operative workplaces.

NSW Hunter Region International Student Education and Compliance Campaign - pdf 48KB

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818
craig.bildstien@fwo.gov.au

Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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