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Cheap eat precincts underpaying vulnerable workers

Restaurants, cafes and food outlets around Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct and Adelaide Central Market, will receive surprise visits from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to check that workers are not being underpaid.

This comes after the FWO received information about possible workplace breaches by some local businesses.

Sandra Parker, Fair Work Ombudsman, said the audits will focus on those businesses that employ sponsored visa holders.

“Our intelligence indicates that Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct employs many workers on visas who may also have limited English skills, which can lead to vulnerability and exploitation,” Ms Parker said.

“All employees should be receiving their lawful entitlements regardless of nationality and visa status. We will hold employers to account if they are not meeting their lawful obligations and consider enforcement action where appropriate. We will also educate workers about their workplace rights.”

Cheap eat precincts in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth have recently undergone similar audits as part of a national audit program. 

The FWO released findings earlier this month from its Hobart audit which showed over $580,000 in unpaid wages, which has now been recovered for 376 workers.

“In previous activities, we have found that cheap food has come at the expense of workers receiving their lawful wages. Any workers with concerns should contact us for free advice,” Ms Parker said.


Irit Jackson, 15th April 2021