​FWO concerns over 417 visas

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​FWO concerns over 417 visas

The Fair Work Ombudsman is inquiring into employer abuses of 417 working holiday visas, with its specialist Overseas Workers’ Team currently making enquiries in hotspot areas in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.

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The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is inquiring into employer abuses of 417 working holiday visas, with its specialist Overseas Workers’ Team currently making enquiries in hotspot areas in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. 

The 417 is a temporary visa for young people who want to holiday and work in Australia for up to two years. It is available to 18 to 30-year-olds from 19 countries, with Taiwan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Ireland and Italy the most frequent countries using the visa. 

The Overseas Workers’ Team’s particular concern is abuse of the “88 day rule”, under which those who want to stay more than 12 months have to undertake 88 day’s specified work in a designated regional area in certain industries in their first year. Around one-quarter of 417-visa-holders extend their visas for another 12 months.

Allegations against employers include underpayment, non-payment, employees paying employers and third parties for the granting of the second visa and the exploitation of workers in exchange for accommodation programs. 

The FWO says one in ten of requests for its assistance now comes from visa-holders in Australia.

A three-year Harvest Trail inquiry by the FWO’s Regional Services Team is also reviewing compliance within the fruit and vegetable growing industry across Australia. 

Late last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman received fresh requests for assistance from backpackers being lured to regional centres by dodgy labour-hire operators allegedly treating them poorly, bullying and sexually harassing them and ripping them off to the tune of hundreds of dollars. 

Overseas Workers’ Team Director Carey Trundle said: “We are very keen to work with employers and communities to make sure that those who try to get a competitive edge by ripping off vulnerable workers are brought to account.”
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