Fair Work recovers thousands for Coffs Coast visa workers

FAIR WORK: Dozens of 417 Visa holders on the Coffs Coast were found to be underpaid and owed time off.
FAIR WORK: Dozens of 417 Visa holders on the Coffs Coast were found to be underpaid and owed time off. Matthew Deans

HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars were recovered for 417 Visa holders on the NSW Mid-North Coast over the 2015/16 financial year.

Across the region and the New England it was revealed $338,600 was recovered for 305 workers, a report released by the Fair Work Ombudsman stated.

This was slightly less than the $395,342 recovered for 339 workers in the previous 2014/15 financial year.

On a farm at Crossmaglen, near Coffs Harbour, it was revealed 26 employees from Vanuatu were underpaid more than $14,700 between September, 2015 and January, 2016.

The employees, many of who spoke little English, were hired by Melbourne-based Seasonal Labour Solution Pty Ltd last year.

The workers were found to be short-changed penalty rates they were entitled to on public holidays and were denied appropriate rest breaks, when they worked 36 consecutive days from September 29 to November 2.

Fair Work inspectors discovered Seasonal Labour Solutions had not complied with a requirement under the Horticulture Award to pay employees penalty rates on public holidays, including Christmas.

This led to workers being underpaid $14,720. The largest underpayment to an individual was $770.

In a separate case, a business near Coffs Harbour failed to pay correct annual leave entitlements and calculate accurate leave balances for shift workers for six years.

The employer miscalculated the leave balances for 75 workers and underpaid 61 employees for almost $54,700. Some workers were affected by both underpayments and miscalculations.

The highest amount a worker was underpaid was $4330 and the largest correction to an annual leave balance was 70.59hrs.

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