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 T J D Sayoco the chance to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking.
The agreement means the business will not face court action for stealing wages from its workers.
Han’s cafe back-pays waiters and kitchen hands
As a result of finding problems in other Han’s Cafe franchises, Fair Work inspectors audited the Mandurah outlet.
Consequently, they discovered the underpayments.
The company paid staff 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
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
- and 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.”
Criminal penalties for wage theft
Mr Heffernan renewed his calls for an increase to penalties for wage theft.
“Common theft 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.”
Ombudsman defends Enforceable Undertakings
However, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker defends the use of Enforceable Undertakings.
She says it’s appropriate 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.
“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.”
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