Brisbane’s London Spice restaurant in Bulimba is accused of underpaying a young waitress.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operators of the restaurant alleging they ignored a Compliance Notice.
The Notice required them to calculate the amount of the wage theft and then back-pay the worker.
Brisbane’s London Spice restaurant accused of wage theft
Facing the Federal Circuit and Family Court is IP West Pty Ltd, which ran the London Spice Bulimba restaurant in Bulimba.
The restaurant has since closed and stopped trading.
Fair Work started investigating after it received a wage theft complaint from the 19 year-old waitress late last year.
An inspector subsequently formed the belief that the restaurant underpaid the worker’s minimum hourly rate, casual loading and weekend penalty rates.
The inspector then issued the Compliance Notice which the regulator alleges the company has since failed to act on.
Lazy form of enforcement
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan described Fair Work’s extensive use of Compliance Notices as “a lazy form of enforcement”.
“Instead of investigating and collecting the evidence themselves, the regulator simply issues one of these Notices,” he said.
“It’s therefore left to the employer to calculate any suspected wage theft.”
Mr Heffernan said he is not surprised that many employers end up ignoring the Notices.
“If the employer is no longer in business, they are not going to bother doing the regulator’s work for them,” he said. “Which I suspect is exactly what has allegedly happened in this case.”
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Fair Work Ombudsman defends Notices
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker defended the use of Compliance Notices.
Moreover, she said the regulator will continue to take business operators to court when they ignore such Notices.
“A court can order a business to pay penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.”
Brisbane’s London Spice restaurant facing Penalties
Meanwhile, Fair Work is seeking penalties against IP West Pty Ltd.
The company faces a maximum penalty of $33,300 for allegedly failing to comply with the Compliance Notice.
The regulator is also seeking an order for the company to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying any underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court in Brisbane has the matter listed for a directions hearing on 27 June 2022.
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