The Federal Circuit Court has ordered a company to pay more than $7,000 in unpaid wages and super to a student visa holder after hearing evidence of a deliberate scheme to exploit young international students working in Australia.
Shadow IR Minister Brendan O'Connor has questioned whether industry awards are operating as a "decent safety net" any more, signalling that Labor is looking at ways to change the Fair Work Act to ensure negotiations over workers' wages and conditions are conducted "on a level playing field".
As the FWC minimum wage panel draws closer to a determination in its annual review, a discussion paper based on surveys of more than 700,000 "lesser skilled" Americans has questioned whether policymakers need to consider mechanisms other than minimum pay rates as a means of improving health outcomes for low-paid workers.
The Federal Court has refused an application by a company to be represented by its operations manager rather than a lawyer, ruling that the manager lacked "the necessary degree of objectivity and skill" required to conduct the case.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says low penalties are creating a "perverse incentive" for a "dangerous minority" of employers to use inaccurate or incomplete records to conceal underpayments, forcing the watchdog to use novel, labour-intensive strategies to piece together employees' working hours.