$22,000 ‘cheque in mail’ for Taiwanese backpacker

15 September 2015 

A Taiwanese backpacker who complained about being underpaid on her last day in Australia has received a cheque in the mail for $22,646.

The Fair Work Ombudsman found the 30-year-old was underpaid for the 20 months she worked as a casual employee at a bakery at Reservoir in suburban Melbourne.

The 417 working holiday visa-holder was paid a flat rate of just $16 an hour.

She was entitled to $21.69 for normal hours and up to $54.23 an hour on public holidays.

The employee was underpaid her minimum hourly rate, overtime, weekend and public holiday rates and meal breaks between June, 2013 and March this year.

She sought help from the Fair Work Ombudsman the day before she flew home to Taiwan at the end of her working holiday.

Fair Work inspectors found the Mountain Bread bakery production line managers were Chinese language speakers who frequently recruited backpackers and international students.

Unaware of the provisions of the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Industry Award, they frequently rostered them to work hours which attracted penalty rates.

The family-owned business, which relocated to Reservoir from Brunswick in 2008, has now received assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure its compliance with workplace laws.

And after the backpacker’s former co-workers emailed her in Taiwan to tell her about their pay rise, she sent a “thank you” message to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

As a result of its contraventions, the Fair Work Ombudsman requested Mountain Bread to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU).

The company, which distributes its products throughout Australia and overseas, co-operated with the Agency and has changed its workplace practices.

Mountain Bread has agreed to engage an independent expert to conduct two audits over a 12 month period to assess its compliance with workplace laws and report back to the Fair Work Ombudsman on the findings.

Further, it will commission workplace relations training for its managers and register with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s online tool My Account.

Enforceable Undertakings were introduced by legislation in 2009 and the Fair Work Ombudsman has been using them to achieve strong outcomes against companies that breach workplace laws, without the need for civil court proceedings.

“We use Enforceable Undertakings where we have formed a view that a breach of the law has occurred, but where the employer has acknowledged this, accepted responsibility and agreed to co-operate and fix the problem,” Ms James said.

Employers with uncertainty about whether their workplace practices are appropriate should visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94

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.

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