Craft beer company, RedDot BrewHouse, has been accused of underpaying staff working in Melbourne on the construction of its first overseas brewery.
The firm was investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman which found it had underpaid a Filipino welder over $20,000 during a period of three months after he was hired.
The workplace watchdog found the employee had signed a contract stating he would be sponsored on a 457 visa – or Temporary Work (Skilled) visa – for four years.
The contract also stipulated a salary of AU$55,000 per year plus overtime and penalty payments. This amount was later cut to $36,000 without the worker’s knowledge, the agency told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Later investigations found the worker had been paid nothing for almost half the hours he had worked and was denied penalty rates for overtime, weekends and public holidays.
The paper reported that RedDot owner, Kah Noe Ng, preferred recruiting employees from overseas because the Australian labour market was too expensive, he said in a recorded interview. He also did not pay the worker for the extra hours because the work was “disappointing and slow”.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, told The Sydney Morning Herald that Mr Ng had now signed a workplace pact for future compliance. He will apologise to the employee and pay all outstanding wages.
“RedDot BrewHouse is a home grown brand and this is the first time that we have expanded our operations outside of Singapore,” the company wrote in a statement to AsiaOne News.
“As a consequence, the management was unfamiliar with the laws and regulations of our host country, Australia. This resulted in certain lapses and we regret the misunderstanding and inconvenience caused to all stakeholders.”
RedDot is “now better equipped to guide the operations and management” to run its Melbourne branch, the firm added.
Ms James said the agency was finding more employers from abroad with little or no understanding of their legal obligations in Australia.
“Migrant employers simply cannot undercut the minimum lawful entitlements of their employees based on what they think the job may be worth, what the employee is happy to accept, what other businesses are paying or what the job may pay in their country of origin,” she said.
“There are minimum pay rates, they apply to everyone – including visa-holders – and they are not negotiable for any reason.”