A Brisbane Vege Rama fast food store is facing hefty penalties for allegedly underpaying a kitchenhand.
Brisbane Vege Rama store facing hefty penalties
Facing the Federal Circuit Court is Riddhi Siddhi Pty Ltd, which operates a Vege Rama fast food outlet and a commercial kitchen in Fortitude Valley.
Also facing court is company director, Ms Ruchika Sharma.
Fair Work commenced an investigation following a wage theft complaint from the kitchenhand.
It is alleged the worker, a visa holder aged in his 20s, worked between 50 and 60 hours a week between April 2018 to August 2019.
An inspector formed the belief that Sharma failed to pay him his proper entitlements, and therefore issued a Compliance Notice.
The Notice required Sharma to calculate and back-pay the worker his outstanding entitlements.
However, Fair Work alleges the employer, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Notice.
The regulator also alleges Sharma provided false and misleading records and pay slips to cover up the wage theft.
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Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan said the fast food industry is rife with underpayments.
“The fast food industry is mostly staffed by young and migrant workers who are vulnerable to exploitation,” he said.
“Young people and migrant workers often don’t know their workplace rights.
“Or they are too afraid to complain if their boss is ripping them off.
“Wage theft should be a crime, so greedy bosses who steal from their workers face criminal convictions and possibly even jail time.
“Until we do, wage theft will continue to happen in industries like fast food, hospitality and retail.”
As a result of the alleged breaches, Fair Work is seeking penalties against Riddhi Siddhi and Sharma.
For ignoring the Compliance Notice, the company faces a maximum penalty of $31,500, while Sharma faces a maximum penalty of $6,300.
For each of the contraventions involving false records and pay slips, the company and Sharma face maximum penalties of $63,000 and $12,600 respectively.
The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to rectify the underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.
The Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane has a directions hearing listed on 12 February 2021.
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