A Han’s Cafe outlet south of Perth will back-pay 16 workers $27,086 in order to avoid court action for wage theft by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The workplace regulator has offered Theo Jose Dominic Sayoco, Grace Bela-Ong Sayoco, and the company T J D Sayoco Pty Ltd, trading as Han’s Cafe Mandurah, the chance to enter into an agreement called an Enforceable Undertaking.
The agreement means the business will not face court action for stealing wages from its workers.
After Fair Work found problems in other Hans Cafe franchises, inspectors audited the books of the Mandurah outlet, and discovered the underpayments.
Inspectors found that waiters were being paid hourly rates of between $16.39 and $19, despite being entitled to $24.41 on weekdays, $29.30 on weekends and $48.83 on public holidays.
Most worked as casual waiters or kitchen attendants, with individual underpayments ranging from $30 to $3,290.
The terms of the Enforceable Undertaking
Under the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking, the company has promised to back-pay the workers, write them an apology and commission an independent audit to see if any other workers had been ripped off.
In addiiton, it will also make a contrition payment of $2,000 to the Commomwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Agreements send wrong message
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at WAGETHEFT.net.au, has long be critical of Enforceable Undertakings being offered to businesses that have ripped off their workers.
“These agreements might be appropriate in some circumstances where an employer has made a genuine mistake, but as we know, most cases of wage theft are deliberate actions by bosses to steal money from their workers, so they should be hauled before the courts and face hefty penalties,” he said,
Mr Heffernan also renewed his call for wage theft penalties to be increased.
“Until wage theft is made a criminal offence, and until we start putting employers in jail, they will continue to steal from their workers with impunity,” he said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman simply does not have the man power or the resources to tackle this scourge which is happening in some industries in epidemic proportions.”
Ombudsman defends Enforceable Undertakings
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker defended the use of a Court-Enforceable Undertaking, arguing that it was appropriate in this circumstance because the company had cooperated with the investigation and committed to back-paying staff.
“Under the Court-Enforceable Undertaking, the company will improve its payroll process and undertake external audits to ensure that staff are receiving their correct entitlements, which will particularly benefit young or migrant workers who are unaware of their rights at work,” she said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman is cracking down on underpayments in the fast food, restaurant and café sector, which is over-represented in our disputes. We will continue to take enforcement action to ensure that hospitality workers receive all of their lawful entitlements.”
Last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman secured a total of $80,000 in penalties against two other Han’s Cafe franchisees for wage theft.
If you have not received your proper wages and entitlements, or are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.
Please call our specialist team at WAGETHEFT.net.au on
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