A “Little Cupcakes’ store has been penalised $50,000 for ripping off 35 workers.
The Federal Circuit Court described the underpayments as “deliberate, sustained, serious breaches” and as a result, vulnerable workers were exploited.
‘Little Cupcakes’ store penalised
The court penalised Shri Krishna Guru Pty Ltd, which operates Little Cupcakes retail stores in the Melbourne CBD.
The company also operates a baking facility in Armadale.
The court also penalised company director Shreyansh Dharmesh Shah an additional $8,316.
The Fair Work Ombudsman uncovered the wage theft during an audit targeting restaurants and cafes in the popular Degraves Street and Hardware Lane dining strips.
Little Cupcakes underpaid 35 employees a total of $57,179 between January 2018 to February 2019.
The wage theft involved underpayment of:
- casual loadings;
- leave loadings;
- minimum-engagement pay;
- minimum hourly rates; and
- loadings for weekend, public holiday, and also evening and overtime work.
The company underpaid one worker $10,960 as a result of the wage theft arrangements.
Vulnerable workers exploited
Judge Karl Blake described the wage theft as deliberate, sustained, serious breaches, which affected employees who are vulnerable to exploitation.
He also said there is a need to impose penalties to create general deterrence.
“There is significant non-compliance by employers in the takeaway food services industry and therefore there is a need to deter non-compliance with workplace laws in that industry.”
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au says there is no excuse for wage theft.
“Yet again, we see another example of the hospitality and takeaway industries ripping off vulnerable workers,” he said.
Mr Heffernan says tough new laws in Queensland and also Victoria make it easier for workers to recover their stolen wages.
“In Queensland, we can now take a wage theft complaint to the Industrial Magistrate who can order the underpayments be rectified, in addition to imposing penalties on greedy bosses,” he said.
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