Cheap Eats Businesses Cheaping Out on Employees

Dec 23rd, 2021

In a recent targeted approach in South Australia, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recovered $189, 316 in owed wages. It investigated 58 businesses around Adelaide’s “Chinatown” precinct, determining that 83% failed to comply with workplace laws. This amounted to 306 underpaid workers.

The investigation was part of a nation-wide program targeting the “cheap eats” precincts in metropolitan areas, including Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide. These businesses were targeted based on an array of reasons – a history of non-compliance, anonymous tip offs, or the employment of migrant workers who are traditionally vulnerable to exploitation.

41 businesses were issued with compliance notices while 1 additional business remains under investigation. 33 business were found to have failed to pay appropriate penalty rates, while 25 failed to pay the minimum hourly rate their employees were entitled to receive.

In total, 43 compliance notices were issued, recovering a total of $188, 548 for 301 workers, and 31 infringement notices for pay-slip and record keeping breaches were issued, amounting to $31, 296 in fines.

These businesses were warned that any future non-compliance may draw higher-level enforcement action from the FWO.

Fast-food, cafĂ© and restaurant-based businesses have plenty of tools available to assist them with the minimum pay entitlements of their employees. Beyond a targeted interactive tool designed specifically for their sector, they can also use the FWO’s Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) calculator or the Small Business Showcase, which hosts a suite of resources for small businesses concerning workplace rights and obligations.

In short, there are no excuses for failing to pay an employee’s minimum entitlements or adhere to their legal obligations as an employer.

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