A Hawthorn real estate agency has been forced to hand over thousands of dollars in unpaid wages after illegally exploiting an employee for $9 (£6.95) an hour.
The worker was taking home less than $375 (£289.66) a week while carrying out duties for the real estate business including drafting contracts, assisting buyers and general administration. The national minimum wage is currently $17.70 (£13.67) an hour, or $672.70 (£519.53) a week.
Workplace investigations revealed the payment of illegal wages after the employee, a 28-year-old Chinese national on a temporary graduate visa who has sought help from the workplace watchdog.
The case is the latest instance of rampant exploitation of migrant labour in Australia, following a string of similar underpayment scandals exposed in farming, cleaning, manufacturing, retail, hospitality and supermarket trolley-collecting businesses.
Inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman’s office, who investigated the Hawthorn real estate agency, were told that the employer “believed the employee was being paid correctly as an intern”. The business owner has agreed to backpay the worker $5000 (£3862.20).
“It is unacceptable for an employer to take advantage of any worker, especially overseas workers who have a limited understanding of their workplace rights,” she said.
“We have minimum pay rates in Australia, they apply to everyone, and they are not negotiable.”