Han’s cafe back-pays workers to avoid court action for wage theft
A Han’s Cafe outlet south of Perth will back-pay 16 workers $27,086 in order to avoid court action.
The Fair Work Ombudsman offered Theo Sayoco and his company the chance to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU).
The business will not face court action for the wage theft as a result.
Han’s cafe rips off waiters and kitchen hands
Fair Work inspectors audited the Mandurah outlet following wage theft complaints at other Han’s Cafe franchises.
They found the Sayoco paid staff hourly rates between $16.39 and $19, despite the award stipulating $24.41 on weekdays, $29.30 on weekends and $48.83 on public holidays.
Most of the affected staff worked as casual waiters or kitchen attendants.
Individual underpayments ranged from $30 to $3,290.
Han’s cafe agrees to back-pay workers
The terms of the Enforceable Undertaking include a number of conditions.
For example, the company agrees to:
- back-paying the workers;
- writing them an apology; in addition to
- organising an independent audit to find out if other workers have been ripped off.
Additionally, it will make a contrition payment of $2,000 to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Agreements send wrong message
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan is critical of Enforceable Undertakings.
“These agreements might be appropriate in some circumstances where an employer has made a genuine mistake,” he said.
“But as we know, most cases of wage theft are deliberate actions by bosses to steal money from their workers.”
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Criminal penalties for wage theft
Meanwhile, Mr Heffernan renewed his calls for criminal sanctions for wage theft.
“Stealing is a criminal offence, so why isn’t wage theft?” he asked.
“Fair Work doesn’t have the man power or the resources to tackle this scourge which is happening in some industries in epidemic proportions.”
Fair Work defends the agreements
However, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker defended the use of the Enforceable Undertaking.
She argued it is the appropriate response in this circumstance because the company had 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.”
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