A Brisbane sushi store is facing more than $630,000 in penalties for allegedly underpaying 34 staff.
The outlet is also accused of providing falsified documents to Fair Work inspectors to cover up the wage theft.
The huge penalties are ten times what normally applies to wage theft offences.
They are imposed in cases of serious contraventions of workplace laws involving the deliberate and systematic exploitation of vulnerable workers.
Brisbane Sushi store facing penalties
Facing the Federal Circuit Court is Delishesco Pty Ltd, which operates Moga Izakaya & Sushi in the inner suburb of Paddington.
Also facing court is the company’s sole director Yinan Yang, who manages the restaurant.
Fair Work alleges Yang paid the 34 employees unlawful flat rates below minimum entitlements between December 2018 and March 2019.
As a result, he failed to pay proper:
- minimum wage rates;
- casual loadings;
- overtime rates;
- penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and night work; and also
- split-shift allowances.
The underpayments totaled $75,716, with one worker owed as much as $9,588.
The employees, mostly young visa holders, worked as wait staff, cooks, kitchenhands and also dishwashers at Moga Izakaya & Sushi.
Inspectors began an investigation following complaints from the workers.
Fair Work alleges that eight of the wage theft contraventions meet the definition of “serious contraventions” under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers amendments to the Fair Work Act.
This is as a result of the deliberate and systematic nature of the alleged conduct.
Fair Work says it has previously warned Yang about underpaying employees.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said:
“Employers are on notice that we will protect vulnerable workers by ensuring that any individuals or companies who allegedly commit serious contraventions are held to account.”
In addition to the underpayments, Fair Work also alleges that Yang provided false documents to inspectors.
Yang also allegedly contravened record keeping and pay slip laws.
For the alleged serious contraventions under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws, Delishesco faces maximum penalties of $630,000 per breach.
Meanwhile, Yang is facing maximum penalties of $126,000 per breach.
For the other alleged contraventions, Delishesco faces penalties of up to $63,000 per breach and Yang up to $12,600 per breach.
Fair Work is also seeking a court order requiring Yang to back-pay his employees in full.
The Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane has a directions hearing listed for 29 June 2021.
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