South West business owner fined for denying backpacker three months’ wages

A South West business owner has been fined for not paying wages and ordered to pay unpaid wages to a young overseas worker for work done as part of the Working Holiday Maker program.

The business owner has been ordered by the Industrial Magistrates Court to pay the backpacker $10,593.58 in unpaid wages and entitlements plus interest of $1,979.94. The Industrial Magistrates Court also ordered the business owner to pay a penalty of $1,500.

The Industrial Magistrate found that the backpacker was an employee and not a volunteer, and as such was entitled to wages and leave entitlements.

Significantly, the Industrial Magistrate found that the business owner’s failings were both egregious and deliberate, and as they involved a vulnerable overseas worker, demonstrated a poor representation of Australian employers to young workers who have come to Australia on a Working Holiday visa.

The backpacker lodged an underpayment complaint with Private Sector Labour Relations at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety after she received no wages, sick leave or annual leave entitlements for the three months’ work she undertook in a regional area to obtain a second Working Holiday visa.

Private Sector Labour Relations Executive Director Lorraine Field today warned other state system employers in regional areas to check their employment obligations for both workers on visas and all local workers.

“State Industrial Inspectors are active in regional areas and can undertake compliance audits to ensure employers are providing pay rates and leave entitlements required by state employment laws,” Ms Field said.

“Businesses in the state industrial relations system are those that operate as sole traders, unincorporated partnerships or unincorporated trusts.”

Information on state employment laws is available at www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/wageline or by calling Wageline on 1300 655 266.

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