The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced immediate inquiries into fresh allegations by the cleaner’s union United Voice that international students working as cleaners are being exploited at major shopping centres.
The FWO has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars for underpaid cleaners, many of them foreign workers, in the past two years and cleaning services is a regular focus of the FWO’s education and compliance activities.
According to the 27 November press release, The FWO is making contact with relevant parties, including United Voice, to seek details about the latest claims.
The FWO is also said to be concerned by statements attributed to the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) that the allegations are a matter for ‘cleaning contractors, not the centres themselves’.
‘It says business operators must be aware that they risk breaching workplace laws if their contracting practices result in the employees of the contractors they engage later being underpaid their minimum entitlements.’
‘Business operators also risk breaching workplace laws if they have actual or inferred knowledge – or are wilfully blind – to such underpayments occurring.’
‘An overseas worker’s team was recently formed within the Agency to investigate serious issues relating to visa holders in Australia, recognising that foreign workers in particular can be vulnerable in the workplace because they are often not fully aware of their workplace rights under Australian laws.’
The Fair Work Ombudsman has an industry page on its website with information specifically tailored to the cleaning industry and encourages key stakeholders with intelligence about non-compliance with workplace laws to come forward with any relevant information.