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Bribie Island Sushi Restaurant Operator Penalised $80,000 For Wage Theft

Bribie Island sushi restaurant operator penalised $80,000 for wage theft

A Bribie Island sushi restaurant operator has been penalised $80,000 for ignoring orders to reimburse two underpaid workers.

The restaurant ignored two Compliance Notices issued by the Fair Work Ombudsman to rectify the wage theft.

Bribie Island sushi restaurant operator penalised

The Federal Circuit and Family Court imposed the penalties against SMH Food Pty Ltd.

The company operates the Shinsen Sushi restaurant on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane.

Fair Work inspectors commenced a wage theft investigation following complaints from two South Korean 417 working holiday visa holders.

The restaurant employed the workers full-time at the restaurant between October 2019 and August 2020.

The Shinsen Sushi restaurant at Bribie Island failed to comply with two Compliance Notices.

Compliance Notices

As a result of the investigation, inspectors found the restaurant failed to pay the workers their proper wages and entitlements.

For example, minimum rates for ordinary hours, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, overtime rates and annual leave entitlements.

The company also failed to issue the workers with pay slips.

Fair Work subsequently issued two Compliance Notices to SMH Food in January 2021.

The Notices required the company to calculate and then back-pay the outstanding wages and entitlements to each worker.


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Penalties

The court imposed a $54,000 penalty for failing to comply with both Compliance Notices in addition to $26,000 for failing to issue pay slips.

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan said Compliance Notices are not optional for employers.

“Compliance Notices offer a chance to rectify underpayments without facing any penalties,” he said.

“Employers who choose to ignore them will inevitably be ordered to pay back what they owe, in addition to huge financial penalties, which is exactly what happened in this case.”

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says Compliance Notices are not optional for employers. (Picture: Supportah)

Assurance Protocol

Meanwhile, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker assured visa holders they can make complaints about workplace issues without fear of losing their visas.

The regulator previously reached an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs called “Assurance Protocol”.

The agreement allows visa holders to seek assistance from the regulator without fear of being kicked out of the country.

“All workers have the same rights in Australia regardless of visa status,” Ms Parker said.


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