04 June 2009

Temporary Australian visa holder wins case against employer

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A temporary Australian visa holder (subclass 457) has won a case against his employer for being underpaid over a 12-month period.

The temporary Australian visa holder was working for a Chinese restaurant as a chef in 2007, and his employer Greenstone failed to pay his penalty rates over the course of the year, amounting to $47,000. 

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has released a statement welcoming the two fines against the company and director (amounting to $34,000), saying that skilled workers coming to Australia through the temporary Australian visa scheme should not be subjected to exploitation because of their dependency.

The conditions of the subclass 457 visa program require employer-sponsorship for overseas workers, and if that employee is laid off, the 457 visa holder must find another sponsoring employer within 28 days or face deportation from Australia.  Immigration Minister Chris Evans says this dependency on employers should not be creating a culture of exploitation and that the Government is working hard to protect temporary Australian visa holders.

"The Rudd Government will not tolerate rogue employers and this penalty should send a strong signal that exploitation of migrant workers is unacceptable," Senator Evans said.

"The vast majority of employers do the right thing but when foreign workers employed on subclass 457 visas are underpaid, it undermines confidence in the program."

During the economic slowdown the Government has seen a significant decline in the number of temporary Australian visa grants through the subclass 457 scheme, which Senator Evans says is indicative of a drop in the demand for labour. 

While the Government has not explicitly played a part in the number of temporary Australian visa grants issued for the 457 visa scheme, it has been proactively reducing the Australian skilled migration program for people permanently emigrating to Australia and channelling it to bring in the skills needed most to support the recovery of the Australian economy. This policy has included giving employers and governments at the state level greater scope to sponsor skilled workers to move to Australia and prioritising Australian visa applications with nominated skills found on the Critical Skills List (CSL).

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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