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Being exploited or breaching visa regulations: limited choices of the food delivery worker

23 Aug 2017

Working holiday visa holders and international students are “squeezed between a rock and a hard place”, according to Business School research, due to widespread exploitation and underpayment forcing them to find low-paid work in the so called gig-economy.


“The majority of these workers can’t earn enough money to live without working extra hours. They can’t work extra hours without breaching their visa,” wrote Work and Organisational Studies Scholarly Teaching Fellow Alex Veen, in an article for The Conversation co-authored with UWA Business School’s Caleb Goods and Tom Barratt. 

The research found that visa restrictions have led some of these workers to become ‘gig workers’, a term used to describe people who source work through use apps, such as Deliveroo and Uber, as a way around the current system without breaching their visas.

But more work hours don’t necessarily mean more pay, with gig workers paid per delivery, rather than per hour.

“Some of the students in our study appeared to be working 40 plus hours a week. This is clearly detrimental to the intended purpose of their visit - to study or holiday,” wrote the researchers.

“One potential way forward would be to provide gig workers with additional rights and to enforce existing laws related to employee’s rights. But recognising these workers as employees under the current migration framework might find more of them in breach of their visas, leading them back to square one,” wrote the researchers.

The full article can be found on The Conversation.