The owners of a restaurant franchise has been penalised $37,500 after he underpaid 25 workers.
The pair claimed they tried to find the correct rates of pay by doing a Google search for “minimum wage”.
Restaurant owner Googled “minimum wage”
The Federal Court penalised Thanh Tong Pham and his wife Cuc Thi Thu Pham for the wage theft and also for failing to keep accurate wages records.
The couple started running the Han’s Café in Rockingham in 2008.
Mr Pham claimed the franchisor told him the minimum wage was $15.
Rather than get professional advice about his wage obligations, Mr Pham chose to do a Google search instead.
Previously, Fair Work warned Mrs Pham about her legal obligations regarding pay slips and wages.
Despite this, Fair Work discovered $27,920 in underpayments.
The court said the wage theft represented a “comprehensive failure to implement the conditions under the Restaurant Award to a group of vulnerable employees including both adult and junior staff.”
Justice Antony Siopis described the conduct as a “reckless disregard of the workplace laws”.
He also said the Phams “were well aware of their statutory obligations after mediation in 2013 and yet failed to change their ways.”
Employer not short of money
The court heard the business had struggled to make a profit, however, Mr and Mrs Pham were not short of money.
The couple bought five properties in the past eleven years, in addition to owning a share in a number of successful nail salons.
Ruth Gardner, who investigates underpayments for IR Claims, said Mr and Mrs Pham should never have duded their workers.
“When the Fair Work Ombudsman has such fantastic resources available on their website, there is no excuse for miscalculating an employee’s wages,” she said.
“If you’re going to own and operate your own business, understanding the cost of doing that business is part of the fundamental basics of being a successful operator.”
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