A landmark study conducted by the University of NSW (UNSW) and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has found a silent underclass of vulnerable Australian workers is owed an estimated billion dollars with almost a third paid $12 per hour or less – almost half of their legal entitlements.
Fewer than one in 10 migrant workers acted to recover unpaid wages even though most know they are being underpaid, according to the report.
Migrant workers comprise up to 11% of the Australian labour market. The authors’ previous report found most international students and backpackers are underpaid, with one in three earning about half the legal minimum wage.
The new report paints a bleak picture for the few who try to recover their unpaid wages. The survey of 4322 temporary migrant workers from 107 countries found that for every 100 underpaid migrant workers, only three (3) took their complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman. More than half of the low proportion of workers that complained said they recovered nothing.
The most cited barriers were not knowing what to do and concerns about the amount of effort involved. However, more than a quarter said they would not speak up because of fears of losing their visa.
If you are being underpaid and/or exploited in any other way at your Australian workplace, then contact Wickham Lawyers at (07) 3831 9025.