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Up to 40 per cent of 457 visa holders underpaid or wrongly employed says Ombudsman

Audits by the Fair Work Ombudsman have found up to 40 per cent of foreign workers employed under 457 visas were underpaid, not performing the jobs they were supposed to do or no longer employed by the person who sponsored their entry into Australia.

Fairfax papers reported on 11 September that Fairfax Media had obtained monthly 457 visa monitoring reports prepared by the Fair Work Ombudsman which identify hundreds of cases of reported underpayment of foreign workers and other problems with the temporary skilled migration system.

The federal government's 457 visa review contained a brief summary of the Fair Work Ombudsman's work, but not the full details of the reports submitted to the Immigration Department between September last year and June 30 this year.

Releasing the report’s recommendations, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said that the review had found “no evidence to back the widespread rorting claims of the program made by the previous Labor government”.

But more than 300 cases have been identified by Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors of 457 visa holders being underpaid, performing a job that did not match their visa application or both.

Chefs and cooks brought into Australia on promised salaries of more than $50,000 were only being paid $30,000. Several foreign-born electricians here on 457 visas were also being paid far less than the Australian average.

In another case, a 457 visa worker recruited to Australia as a customer service manager was found to be working as a cleaner and paid just $28,000.

The random audits of 457 visa holders also identified another 420 cases where people were no longer employed by their sponsor or whose sponsor could not be located, raising doubts about the bona fides of those visa applications.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September 2014.

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