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From deathbed, 457 visa holder fights for unpaid wages

27 May 2019

A hospitality worker from India is fighting his employer to claim allegedly unpaid wages while suffering from cancer and being in palliative care.

A 457-visa holder from India is fighting for his unpaid wages while also fighting for his life after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

40-year-old Sanjeev Kumar is in palliative care at the Tamworth hospital in New South Wales after he became ill in April this year. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and had to undergo two surgeries to remove the tumor. But his condition continued to deteriorate.

At the same time, Mr. Kumar is fighting for his unpaid wages. He claims that he hasn’t been paid for over 70 weeks during his employment at The Grand Pavilion, an Indian restaurant, where he worked as a manager since October 2015.

“The employer paid him for one week and then didn’t pay for two-three weeks and then again paid for two weeks and didn’t pay for a week. It has been like this throughout,” Mr Kumar’s sister Poonam told SBS Punjabi.

His bank account statements show a flat payment of $888.65 per week paid intermittently, receiving wages for 110 weeks since he commenced employment. Mr Kumar claims that he is still owed wages for over 70 weeks in addition to overtime and penalty rates.

“He has only been paid a flat rate for 38 hours per week whereas the actual number of hours worked is far higher. He hasn’t been paid overtime, weekend penalties, shift loading… anything,” Poonam said who was once a business partner of the man who later employed her brother.

However, Mr. Kumar’s employer Gunashaker Senthamilselvan maintains he doesn’t owe him any money but conceded that the payroll record doesn’t reflect Mr Kumar has been paid correctly.

“It’s very complicated,” Mr Senthamilselvan said. “I have paid him more than his salary. I’m willing to cooperate with an investigation by the Immigration department. I know they’ll check my records, if not today, a month from now… two, three months.

“I’ll explain to them. But if they still say I need to pay him $20,000 or $30,000, I’ll pay,” he told SBS Punjabi.

He also said that he visited Mr. Kumar in the hospital and paid him $1,000. Mr. Kumar continues to be in his employment though he received his last salary on 11th April this year. He did not return to work since falling ill in the third week of March. 

While Ms. Poonam says she’s in touch with the officials of the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force said it does not comment on whether individual businesses are or are not being investigated.