SYDNEY, June 20 (Xinhua) -- The former operators of two massage parlors in Australia's Queensland state capital Brisbane have been fined after they refused to back-pay two of their employees who were on the country's popular working holiday visas, authorities said on Wednesday.
They were fined more than 100,000 Australian dollars (73,900 U.S. dollars).
A federal circuit court imposed the penalties after Sean Pinnell, Sajana Paudel and their company Bishnu Laxmi Ganesha Trading, which formerly ran the "Brisbane City Thai Massage and Day Spa" and "Heavenly Asian Massage" parlors, refused to back-pay two massage therapists more than 12,800 Australian dollars (9,460 U.S. dollars) in outstanding wages and entitlements, the Fair Work Ombudsman government workplace relations regulator said in a statement.
Both employees, Japanese women in their mid-20s, had been underpaid over a three-month period in 2016, the regulator said.
The workers had been paid on a per-massage basis for most of their employment but were entitled to the minimum hourly rates and entitlements. The regulator's inspectors investigated the case after the two women requested assistance, it said.
Court judge Salvatore Vasta said the company "was saving itself, on average, 60 percent of what it should have been paying to what it did actually pay."
"In other words, it was giving itself a huge advantage over its competitors," said Vasta, who also ordered the company to back-pay the employees in full.
"It also needs to be borne in mind that these two employees were vulnerable, having come here to the country on working visas. They are entitled to be protected under Australian workplace law and to not be taken advantage of in the way they have been by this company."
Many foreign students and visitors use Australia's working holiday visas to travel and work in the country, with many filling vacancies in the agricultural, services and other sectors.