Business operator fined 72000 for paying backpackers as little as 135 an hour

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pstrongA BUSINESS owner who paid young backpackers as little as $1.35 an hour after “luring them to a remote area of Tasmania” with bogus claims in job ads has been whacked with a massive fine./strong/pp class="standfirst-content"Harold William Jackson, who formerly owned and operated Harolds Glass and Hardware and the adjacent Rhythm & Vines cafe in Queenstown, has been penalised $71,910 in the Federal Circuit Court in a case bought by the Fair Work Ombudsman./pp class="standfirst-content"The court found that between July 2013 and February 2014, Mr Jackson exploited five backpackers aged in their 20s who travelled to Australia on 417 working holiday visas./pp class="standfirst-content"Judge Terry McGuire described Mr Jacksons treatment of the backpackers, who were underpaid a total of $42,985, as calculated and callous./pp class="standfirst-content"The backpackers were lured with ads on Gumtree and in hostels promising 88 day second year work visa sign off is available./pp class="standfirst-content"To be eligible to apply for a second year, 417 visa holders must undertake 88 days of specified paid work in designated regional areas and in certain industries in their first year./pp class="standfirst-content"The court found that once the workers arrived, Mr Jackson required them to do hard physical labour, extensively underpaid them, berated and yelled at them and provided only basic accommodation facilities./pp class="standfirst-content"He also refused to sign off on the 88-day regional work requirement and arbitrarily sacked a number of them, leaving these young people actually and financially stranded, Judge McGuire found./pp class="standfirst-content"Significantly, the evidence before me of advertisements placed by the respondent from 2012 is indicative of a course of conduct involving workers other than these complainants, he said./pp class="standfirst-content"It is often construed that employers rue the reluctance of young Australians to take on seasonal or similar work. I comment only that such young locals might well be aware of their basic rights and the obligations of employers when considering employment and (Jacksons) tendency to advertise in backpacker hostels was calculated accordingly./pp class="standfirst-content"Mr Jackson paid one of the backpackers, an Italian woman, just $270 for four weeks work the equivalent of $1.35 an hour./pp class="standfirst-content"The four other backpackers from the UK and Japan, who worked for periods ranging from one week to four months, received irregular payments equivalent to rates of between $2.43 and $5.38 an hour./pp class="standfirst-content"Under Australian workplace laws they were entitled to be paid more than $19 an hour for normal hours and up to $32 an hour for some weekend work./pp class="standfirst-content"In total, the backpackers were paid between seven and 21 per cent of their lawful minimum entitlements, with underpayments ranging from $1026 to $19,097./pp class="standfirst-content"The FWO investigated after a complaint from one former employee. In January 2015, Mr Jackson told the allegations were completely untrue./pp class="standfirst-content"He said the backpacker maliciously lodged the complaint when he refused to sign her work visa. She said to me she needed someone to sign off her 88 days for her two-year visa, he said./pp class="standfirst-content"I asked when her visa expired and when I looked at my calendar, I told her I couldnt give her 88 days. She said, Yes you can, I wont tell anyone./pp class="standfirst-content"He said at the time the woman only stayed for two-and-a-half weeks, not four as the FWO claimed. When I refused to sign her visa she got bloody nasty, he said./pp class="standfirst-content"She refused to leave I had to involve the police to remove her. The next thing I know shes lodged this bloody complaint. Now that Fair Work have it theyre like a dog with a bone and its going to cost me a fortune to defend it./pp class="standfirst-content"The court found Mr Jacksons actions in instructing the backpackers to tell Fair Work inspectors they were volunteers rather than employees was evidence the conduct was deliberate./pp class="standfirst-content"This demonstrates an understanding by the respondent of his statutory obligations and a calculated attempt to avoid and conceal them, Judge McGuire said./pp class="standfirst-content"He added that Mr Jackson obfuscated and was uncooperative in the investigative process and had provided information that was contradictory and inconsistent./pp class="standfirst-content"The court also slammed Mr Jackson for only admitting the contraventions days before a scheduled contested hearing, after the FWO had spent considerable money flying the backpackers from overseas to be witnesses./pp class="standfirst-content"All of this incurred substantial impost on the public purse, Judge McGuire said./pp class="standfirst-content"Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the court outcome showed exploitation of visa holders carried serious consequences./pp class="standfirst-content"Young and overseas workers can be vulnerable if they are reluctant to complain or not fully aware of their workplace rights, so we place a high priority on taking action to protect their workplace rights, Ms James said./pp class="standfirst-content"It is not acceptable for an employer to take advantage of any worker, especially overseas workers who speak limited English and have limited understanding of their workplace rights./pp class="standfirst-content"Mr Jackson has not yet complied with a court order made in January to back-pay the workers./pp class="standfirst-content"In 2009, Mr Jackson was cleared of a stabbing charge after a jury decided it was in self-defence./pp class="standfirst-content"The incident occurred when a man rang up wanting a pizza delivery to a pub and I said I was sorry but I dont deliver to pubs, thats just our policy, he told Fairfax at the time./pp class="standfirst-content"The man came into the shop a few hours later and exploded after demanding an apology. He demolished the shop. Everything on the counter he used as missiles to hurl at me wine glasses, a coffee grinder, he said./pp class="standfirst-content"When the man came around the counter, Mr Jackson thrust a knife into him, leaving a 5cm laceration. After Id done it, I thought what the hell did I do, he said. The police asked me but I didnt know how deep it went in, or where I got him, I just thrust it at him./pp class="standfirst-content"b frank.this site/b/p