The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured an enforceable undertaking against a cleaning company that underpaid bridging and 457 visa holders working on a government contract.
Melbourne-based Veracity Property Services was found to have underpaid two Sri Lankan employees who had been employed as cleaners at a south-east Melbourne public school.
One of the workers was in Australia on a skilled 457 visa, the other on a bridging visa.
According to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Veracity failed to pay both workers under the relevant award, resulting in underpayments worth a collective $1,604 in the three months between July and September 2017.
In addition to forcing Veracity to repay the workers, the enforceable undertaking requires the business to audit its payments processes and working conditions of its entire workforce, as well as hire an external consultant to review whether employees have been wrongly classified as independent contractors.
“Cleaners can be some of the most vulnerable workers in Australia, particularly visa holders,” ombudsman Sandra Parker said.
“We investigated this company as part of our compliance activity into the cleaning supply chain for metropolitan and regional Victorian government schools.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to target industries where we are concerned about the underpayment of overseas workers, as they can be particularly vulnerable and reluctant to request our assistance.”
The issue of employees wrongly being classified as contractors has attracted widespread attention in recent months, after the FWO in June launched legal action against food delivery service Foodora, amid a wider investigation of the entire industry.
Foodora subsequently announced plans to quit its Australian operations.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.