457 visa crackdown for fast food industry
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton has ended the Fast Food Industry Labour Agreement which saw hundreds of foreign workers take jobs at fast food outlets across Australia.
“Australian workers, particularly young Australians, must be given priority,” Mr Dutton said.
“The Coalition Government is committed to implementing reforms that strengthen Australia’s skilled migration programme to ensure overseas workers supplement rather than provide a substitute for Australian workers.
“Businesses can still make requests under normal labour agreement arrangements to ensure that exceptional circumstances can be considered.
“Genuine business needs for overseas workers which contribute to economic growth will still be considered.”
More than 500 skilled worker visas have been approved for fast-food outlets over the past four years.
Fast food businesses will no longer be able to bring in foreign workers on 457 visas under arrangements approved by the Gillard Labor Government in 2012.
The workers will be forced to leave Australia once their agreements run out unless the restaurant is able to present an individual case as to why they should remain in the country.
It is the first time an entire sector has been banned from using the visas.
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A fast food shop in Bendigo paid staff as little as $11 an hour because the employer believed it was the ‘going rate’, a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation has found.
The employer, who was new to the business, told Fair Work inspectors he was unaware of the Fast Food Industry Award, minimum hourly rates or penalties. A random audit of the business as part of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s national hospitality campaign found that four part-time and casual employees were paid between $11 and $15 an hour.
They were entitled to a minimum of between $15.74 and $22.48 for normal hours and between $20.77 and $29.67 for work on Sundays. Collectively, they were short-changed more than $8000, with individual underpayments ranging from $582 to $3004.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the employer has been educated about his workplace obligations and since reimbursed all outstanding entitlements. She says the case study highlights the importance of Goldfields region businesses taking the time to ensure they understand the wage rates applicable to their workplace.
“Employers also need to be aware that they are not able to enter into agreements which undercut minimum lawful entitlements,” Ms James said.“We would encourage anyone establishing or operating a business to seek advice and assistance if they are unclear about their responsibilities.
“When we find mistakes, our preference is to educate employers about their obligations and assist them to put processes in place to ensure they are compliant in future.”
Other recent recoveries in the Goldfields region include:
$7800 recovered for 16 office cleaners in Bendigo who were underpaid their travel and shift allowances as well as their overtime penalty rates,
$8800 for seven casual food and beverage workers in Bendigo who were underpaid their minimum hourly rates, late night and weekend penalty rates, and
$9000 for a two farm hands at Clunes who did not receive overtime penalty rates, leave loading or their full personal leave entitlements.
Ms James says the Fair Work Ombudsman can assist employers with accurate, reliable information that is easy to access, understand and apply.
– See more at: http://www2.paysonline.com.au/blog.aspx?Bendigo-fast-food-worker-paid-%2411-an-hour-137#sthash.e7X1mfts.dpuf
An investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) published today reveals workers in restaurants, cafes and catering companies throughout Australia have been underpaid over $1.2 million.
Spot checks by the FWO found a total of 456 businesses were found to have short-changed 2752 employees with one worker owed more than $40,000. The FWO asked 1066 employers to supply their 2012-13 time and wages records for assessment and found only 42% were fully compliant, with a total of 879 errors identified. Almost 20% of the mistakes related to weekend penalty rates.
“The majority of errors related to wage entitlements,” Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said in a statement.
“Employers were paying flat rates for all hours worked, which was often not enough to cover penalties, loadings and overtime.”James said the contravention rate showed an ongoing need for intervention by the FWO in the food services sector.
“According to recent data, this is an industry with a vulnerable workforce comprised largely of young employees and low-skilled employees,” she said. But Restaurant and Catering Association chief executive John Hart told SmartCompany the breaches recorded were actually a “very small amount” averaging $16.77 a week.
“What is really difficult about this is the audit was done two years ago when we were in a transition phase to new awards, where there were 36 different rate scales,” he says.“It is very unsurprising to see breaches in an audit that was undertaken at that time, it was just a nightmare.”
Hart also says the large number of people employed in the hospitality industry is also a factor.
“When you have half a million people employed in a sector it’s not surprising you have that number of breaches,” he says.“It’s an industry going through transition and through employment growth at unprecedented levels.”
Hart says the FWO is trying to “create a storm” with the investigation.“What it does do is demonstrate the absolute complexity of this system,” he says.
“We were dealing with 36 rate scales and across those rate scales 17 different rates an individual might be paid depending on whether it was Saturday, Sunday, evening or late night”
Hart says compliance with award rates has increased in the industry but would improve further with a simplified system.“Now if you look up the award you can pay the rate in the award, two years ago if you did that you would have been breached because you weren’t paying the transition rate,” he says.
“There would be a higher rate of compliance now but we could be doing better by making the system simpler.”
The Restaurant and Catering Association has been pushing for a move to two penalty rates: a weekend rate and a weekly rate.
(source : Smartcompany)