Nov 23rd, 2021
A Japanese restaurant in Adelaide is the recipient of $78,220.80 in penalties after a court has determined they obstructed a Fair Work Inspector, and breached the minimum pay entitlements of two employees.
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The operators of the restaurant have been slapped with a $66,528 penalty, while the director also received a penalty of $11,692.80.
The Fair Work Ombudsman initiated their investigation after they received requests for assistance from two visa holders that had been employed as waitresses.
The Fair Work Inspectors were provided with the workers’ own pay records, at which point they determined the workers were paid as little as $12 an hour from April to August 2018. This included underpayment of not just their minimum pay entitlements but also weekend penalty rates and late-night loadings under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010, and it ultimately amounted to $10, 517.43 to be backpaid.
Beyond not providing the workers with their pay slips, they also failed to provide the workers with a Fair Work Information Statement, which they are obligated to do so under the National Employment Standards.
The operators also have a prior history when it comes to underpaying employees – in January of 2019 they were in breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 by hindering and obstructing a Fair Work Inspector.
The restaurant operators also made and kept false pay records which were never provided to the workers, and the director provided these false records and pay slips to the Fair Work Inspector.
The judge in the Federal Circuit and Family Court has deemed the conduct of the operators as “extremely serious”, particularly since the employees in question have been left struggling to pay rent.
Taking into account their previous breaches of the Award in terms of minimum pay entitlements as well as also failing to provide pay slips, the Judge believed they had intended to deliberately frustrate the industrial relations system in place in order to take advantage of vulnerable workers
The outcome of this matter is intended to serve as a warning to other employers that they will be held accountable for any exploitation of migrant workers and any employees vulnerable to exploitation.