Wage theft in Australia

On 21 November, 2017 a report Wage Theft in Australia: Findings of the National Temporary Migrant Work Survey was released. The survey is the most comprehensive study of wage theft and working conditions among international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants in Australia.

Findings include:

  • Almost a third (30%) of international students and backpackers earned $12 per hour or less. This is about half the minimum wage for a casual employee in many of the jobs in which temporary migrants work.
  • Underpayment was widespread across numerous industries but was especially common in food services, and especially severe in fruit and vegetable picking
  • Severe underpayment was experienced by every major nationality of backpackers and international students in this country – at least one in five Americans, British, Indians, Brazilians, and Chinese earned roughly half the minimum wage.
  • At least three quarters of underpaid international students and backpackers know that they’re being paid less than the minimum wage. One reason they stay in these jobs paying illegally low wages is that the overwhelming majority believe that everyone else on their visa is earning less than the minimum wage too.
  • A substantial number also work in conditions that could amount to criminal forced labour, including being required to pay cash back to their employer after receiving their wages, having their passport confiscated by their employer, or paying an upfront ‘deposit’ for their job
  • Surprisingly 24% found the employment themselves by directly contacting the employer while 38% found the position on the internet.

If you have been underpaid as a backpacker in Australia please leave your comments below. Staying silent allows these criminals to get away with their crimes and allows them to repeat these crimes against other backpackers.

Link to the Report

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