Caravan park cautioned after underpaying dozens of backpackers working on local farms

18 July 2016 

The operators of a caravan park in Far North Queensland have been placed on notice after the Fair Work Ombudsman found it was underpaying dozens of workers that it was supplying to work on local farms.

The park has received a formal Letter of Caution after investigations revealed that it had underpaid 84 workers almost $30,000.

Many of the part-time workers were backpackers in Australia on the 417 working holiday visa.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated the matter after 10 employees contacted the Agency requesting assistance.

Fair Work inspectors found that while they were being paid the correct minimum hourly rate of $17.29 for normal work, they were not receiving the $25.94 they should have received for overtime.

The underpayments occurred over 11 months last year. The largest amount owing to an individual employee was $1140.

Fair Work inspectors also found the employer had breached the Fair Work Act by cashing out annual leave with each pay, impacting on the workers’ rights to be able to take leave.

The caravan park operators are now on notice that further contraventions of federal workplace laws could result in enforcement action, including legal proceedings.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a number of Inquiries underway to identify and address the structural and behavioural drivers of non-compliance in various industry networks and supply chains in which overseas workers are heavily represented.

These include a review of the wages and conditions of workers in Australia on the 417 working holiday visa and a Harvest Trail inquiry into the horticulture and viticulture sectors nationally.

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently released information about the work it conducted in calendar year 2015 involving visa-holders. Read the media release: Fruit-picking backpackers most likely to dispute pay.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the Agency is now receiving more complaints from overseas visa-holders working in Australia than ever before.

“Visa-holders can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their rights or are reluctant to seek help, so we place a high priority on taking action to ensure their rights are protected,” she said.

Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or phone the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50.

Information to assist people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds has been translated into 27 languages and is available on the website.

The Agency also has fact sheets tailored to overseas workers and international students on the website and YouTube videos in 14 languages to assist workers to understand their workplace rights.

Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO external-icon.png, the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au External link icon or find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/fairwork.gov.au External link icon.

Sign up to receive the Fair Work Ombudsman’s media releases direct to your email inbox at www.fairwork.gov.au/mediareleases.

Media inquiries:

Annie Lawson, Media Adviser
Mobile: 0466 522 004
annie.lawson@fwo.gov.au

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