Underpaid workers to receive almost $800,000 in back pay after ABF investigation

Following an investigation by the Australian Border Force (ABF) Sponsor Monitoring Unit, the China Chilli Holding Group that operates nine Sichuan cuisine restaurants across Australia has been fined $131,400 and barred from sponsoring foreign workers for two years.

Operation Acapella commenced in January 2020 with ABF officers visiting and auditing the Holding Group’s restaurants located in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide.

The Holding Group was found to have underpaid 23 workers collectively $799,575 between July 2019 and November 2020. In addition to the fines and sponsorship bar, the Holding Group has provided the ABF with evidence of rectifying the underpayments.

ABF Acting Commander Enforcement Operations East, Garry Low said underpayment of workers is a serious issue.

“Everybody working in Australia has the right to be paid properly including workers who are holders of sponsored visas,” A/g Commander Low said.

“The ABF regularly undertakes targeted sponsor compliance activities to ensure businesses sponsoring visa holders are not underpaying workers or breaching their sponsorship obligations.

“Sponsored workers must be paid at least the salary approved by the Department of Home Affairs at the time of nomination.

“Where underpayment or other non-compliance is found, not only will sponsors be required to repay wages owed to employees, they also face harsh fines, cancellation of sponsorship agreements and being barred from making further applications to sponsor workers,” A/g Commander Low said.

A list of sponsors that have been banned, barred or infringed is published on the Register of Sanctioned Sponsors at https://www.abf.gov.au/about-us/what-we-do/sponsor-sanctions/register-of-sanctioned-sponsors .

Anyone with information about non-compliance with visa sponsorship obligations should contact Border Watch at australia.gov.au/borderwatch. You can provide information anonymously.

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