The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the former operators of a restaurant in Melbourne, who could now be liable for penalties totalling around $80,000, as well as refunding all moneys owed to an ex-employee.
Facing court are Absolute Thai Melbourne Pty Ltd, which operated a restaurant that traded as Wokks in Carlton, and company director Ronald Nah. The restaurant is no longer trading.
The regulator began an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from a worker employed at the restaurant as a food and beverage attendant on a casual basis from July 2019 to July 2020.
Worker was not paid all entitlements
A Fair Work Inspector issued Compliance Notices to Absolute Thai in September 2020 after forming a belief the worker had not been paid all entitlements owed under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 and the Restaurant Industry Award 2020.
The inspector formed a belief that the worker was underpaid the minimum wage, casual loading, and weekend and public holiday penalty rates.
The FWO alleges Absolute Thai, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notices, which required the calculation and back-payment of the worker’s outstanding entitlements. It is alleged Nah was involved in the contravention.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the Covid-19 pandemic and take business operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
Offenders pay penalties and back pay
“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” Parker stated.
The FWO is seeking penalties against Absolute Thai Melbourne Pty Ltd and Nah for allegedly failing to comply with two Compliance Notices.
The company faces a maximum penalty of up to $33,300 per contravention, while Nah faces a maximum penalty of up $6,660 per contravention.
The regulator is also seeking an order for the company to comply with the Compliance Notices, which includes rectifying any underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation.