The media loves to tell us that immigrants are always doing the wrong thing. But did you know that people who employ immigrants have strict obligations too? If you are an employer, and you are a bit dodgy, you might find yourself facing court.

This is Cecily. She owns a nursery. Cecily looks like a lovely enough person, and really cares about her customers. She was great at interview, and really enthusiastic about bringing Sandeep on as an employee. So enthusiastic that she sponsored him. Unfortunately, it turned out that Cecily was a bit of a villain.

Plants Super Villain in Human Form. Art by Sam Lavy.
Plants Super Villain in Human Form.   Artwork by Sam Lavy.

 

Cecily employed Sandeep because he’s a botanist, skilled in curating heirloom plants. Heirloom plants is what Cecily specialises in. The two worked well together. But what Sandeep didn’t know is that Cecily wasn’t paying him enough to meet current market rates for that position.

Sandeep did start to wonder about his pay when his hours increased. He never seemed to get paid enough overtime – certainly not the same amount as his colleagues. After doing this for a while, he tried talking to Cecily. She told him that he just hadn’t worked there long enough to earn it yet. She promised that after he had been there for two years, his pay would increase and his hours would drop.

Little did Sandeep know, but the Department of Immigration inspectors had been to visit as part of their monitoring process. They discovered that Cecily had not kept adequate pay records. Of the records she did keep, they found that she was not giving Sandeep conditions equal to that of his colleagues. He was regularly working more than 38 hours per week, and was not paid at the correct rate.

The Department issued Cecily’s Nursery an infringement. This gave her an opportunity to rectify the situation, and to pay Sandeep what he was owed. Cecily, being the villain she is, fed her worms with the letter, and did not comply.

Because Cecily did not comply, the Department of Immigration brought the issue before the courts. Cecily was found guilty of failing to meet two of her obligations. She was fined $35,000, and ordered to pay court costs as well.

This situation could have been avoided if Cecily had treated Sandeep equally. Australia’s workplace laws apply equally, whether an employee is a migrant or not. The penalties for employers who don’t do things right can be quite severe.

If you are not sure whether you are doing things right, it pays to check. Don’t risk ending up like Cecily. Getting advice is cheaper than getting fined »