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The Cost Of Cheap Sushi – Wage Theft And Exploitation Of Vulnerable Workers

The cost of cheap sushi – wage theft and exploitation of vulnerable workers

The cost of cheap sushi is widespread wage theft and exploitation of vulnerable workers, according to industrial advocates.

A recent audit of 45 sushi audits by the Fair Work Ombudsman found 37 breached workplace laws.

The audits revealed the outlets underpaid workers by not paying proper:

  • minimum hourly rates;
  • overtime;
  • loadings;
  • and also penalty rates.

Miles Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims said:

“We all like cheap sushi, however, it appears that it is the staff working in these outlets who are paying the price by having their wages stolen.”

The cost of cheap sushi

As a result of the audits, Fair Work recovered $746,203 for 397 underpaid workers, averaging $1,900 for each.

Additionally, inspectors issued nine on the spot fines totalling $17,850, in addition to 15 formal cautions and six Compliance Notices.

And furthermore, the regulator launched legal action against six businesses for serious breaches of workplace laws.

In two of those matters, the court subsequently ordered combined penalties of $136,250 for wage theft.

Three other matters involving wage theft at sushi stores in Canberra, Newcastle and the New South Wales Central Coast remain before the courts.


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Calls for wage theft to be criminalised

Mr Heffernan, Director of Litigation at IR Claims, renewed his call for wage theft to be criminalised.

“It is unacceptable that 90 percent of these businesses are breaking workplace laws,” he said.

“It shows current penalties and enforcement aren’t working.

“Therefore, we need criminal penalties for wage theft and start locking up these greedy employers.”

Raids followed complaints from workers

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the compliance activity came as a result of an increase in the number of complaints from vulnerable workers.

“Although everybody loves cheap sushi, perhaps we should ask ourselves – is what I’m paying enough to cover workers’ minimum wages and entitlements?”


Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on

1300 045 466

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