A restaurant has been penalised $230,000 for repeatedly underpaying workers.
The latest wage theft totalled $5,111 and involved 11 employees.
It’s the first time the Fair Work Ombudsman has secured penalties under the ‘serious contraventions’ provisions of the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws.
Restaurant penalised for repeatedly underpaying workers
The Federal Circuit Court penalised Tac Pham Pty Ltd, the former franchisee of the Han’s Café in Rockingham in Perth, $191,646.
The court also penalised the outlet’s former general manager, Cuc Thi Thu Pham, an additional $38,394.
Pham failed to pay proper:
- ordinary minimum hourly rates;
- penalty rates;
- minimum shift-pay and also an allowance.
In addition, she failed to provide proper pay slips.
It’s the second time Pham and her company have been caught underpaying staff.
Previously, a court imposed $45,000 in penalties after Pham underpaid workers $27,920 between December 2014 and December 2015.
Pham also breached pay slip laws then too.
Protecting Vulnerable Laws
A number of the affected staff involved in the most recent litigation are young and also migrant workers.
Three of the contraventions subsequently met the definition of ‘serious contraventions’ under the Protecting Vulnerable Laws because of the repeat offending.
Of the total penalties ordered, 80 percent relate to these serious contraventions.
Under the laws, which came into effect in September 2017, the maximum penalties for serious contraventions are $630,000 per breach for a company in addition to $126,000 for an individual.
The penalties are therefore 10-times what ordinarily applies.
No intention of changing
Pham and her company admitted liability, including to the serious contraventions.
Judge Christopher Kendall noted Pham’s repeated non-compliance, despite previously making commitments to improve her payroll practices.
“The respondents had no intention of changing their conduct and would have continued as they had been if the [Fair Work Ombudsman] had not intervened when it did.
“Importantly, the respondents failed to comply with the most basic obligations owed to employees.
“Their conduct reflects a cavalier and entirely unacceptable approach to core legal obligations.
“Employers must be deterred from engaging in similar conduct.”
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the judgment highlights the value of the serious contraventions powers in providing a deterrent for employers doing the wrong thing.
“We will continue to make full use of the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws to ensure that any individuals or companies who commit serious contraventions are held to account and understand the consequences of their failures.”
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