Hospitality businesses penalised for worker underpayment following an ABF operation

A dozen Sydney restaurants have been fined a total of $113,400 during an Australian Border Force (ABF) operation targeting businesses underpaying or wrongly employing foreign workers.

The restaurants were all sponsoring workers on temporary skilled visas. Three have now been stripped of their right to sponsor foreign workers.

In addition to the fines and cancellations, more than $163,000 in wages was repaid to 65 underpaid sponsored workers by 24 sponsors.

The operation commenced in September 2019 and ran for four months with ABF officers visiting 40 restaurants in the Sydney CBD and surrounds.

Sponsors are required to ensure sponsored foreign workers are being paid correctly and conducting the work they are sponsored for. To be compliant, sponsors must provide their workers the same conditions and wages as Australian workers.

Acting ABF Commander Investigations, Garry Low said the results of this operation should serve as a warning to businesses who employ sponsored workers that non-compliance can have serious consequences.

“The ABF regularly undertakes proactive, targeted sponsor compliance activities to ensure businesses sponsoring visa holders are not breaching their obligations,” he said.

“Where non-compliance is found, sponsors face harsh fines, cancellation of sponsorship agreements and being barred from making further applications to sponsor workers.”

“Underpayment of workers is a serious issue, everybody working in Australia has the right to be paid properly in line with industry and award requirements including workers who are holders of sponsored visas.”

The ABF maintains a publically available register of sponsors that have been cancelled, barred or infringed for breaches of the sponsorship obligations. The Register of Sanctioned Sponsors is available at https://www.abf.gov.au/about-us/what-we-do/sponsor-sanctions/register-of-sanctioned-sponsors .

Anyone with information about a sponsor being non-compliant with their sponsorship obligations should contact Border Watch at australia.gov.au/borderwatch. You can provide information anonymously.

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