The Brisbane couple was fined RM678,000 for underpaying five Malaysian and Taiwanese workers at their restaurants.
BRISBANE: Two migrant Malaysian business operators have been fined more than A$200,000 (RM678,000) for exploiting five Malaysian and Taiwanese workers.
Malaysian couple Lee Wee Song and Siew Lay Yeoh were found to have underpaid the visa-holding employees at their Teppanyaki Lovers and Nigi Nigi outlets, according to a SBS news report.
Lee and Siew were fined A$40,500 and A$32,400, respectively. In addition, their companies Tsuyoetsu Pty Ltd and Taikuken Pty Ltd were fined A$99,000 and A$29,200, respectively.
They paid the five staff as little as A$10 per hour. Australia’s minimum wage is A$17.70 per hour.
The five workers – holding student, bridging and partner visas – were underpaid between A$13,880 to A$45,182 each (totalling A$148,710) between November 2011 and October 2014, SBS reported.
The report did not say how many of the workers were Malaysians.
Meanwhile, Hospitality magazine quoted judge Salvatore Vasta as saying: “It may be said that the respondents themselves had come from Malaysia and that the workers were Malaysian, but what that means is there is a deal of responsibility for those who are dealing as employers in Australia undertaking what is fair and just in Australia as far as compliance with the legislation.
“There is an obligation on them to ensure that workers from a similar culture to the employers are not exploited.
“It would seem that if someone from a particular culture comes to Australia and is employed by somebody else from the same background, there would be an automatic level of trust and comfort in that fact. In many ways, by not complying with the law of this country there has been an exploitation of the five workers that is extremely serious.”
The magazine quoted Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James as saying the judgment sent a clear message to migrant employers in Australia that exploiting overseas workers in Australia was a serious misconduct.
“I am increasingly concerned about the number of employers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who are exploiting workers from within their own ethnic communities.
“Overseas workers are entitled to the same wages as Australian citizens and we are actively seeking to dispel the myth that it’s OK to pay overseas workers a ‘going rate’ that undercuts the lawful minimum wage rates that apply in Australia,” she was quoted as saying.