The former manager of a restaurant at the Tangalooma Island Resort in Queensland is facing court, accused of ripping off his workers for a third time.
Jia Ning Wang has twice previously faced legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman for stealing wages from his employees – and twice he’s been penalised for the wage theft.
Mr Wang used the run the Fire and Stone Restaurant on Moreton Island at the popular resort.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges he underpaid nine staff a total of $2,239 between March and October last year.
The underpayments happened when the workers were not paid their legal minimum hourly rate, and not paid their proper entitlements.
Also facing court is the company that owns the restaurant, Auspac Hospitality Management Pty Ltd.
Fair Work inspectors also allege Mr Wang breached record keeping and pay slip laws.
The workers involved in the current allegations have since all been back paid in full.
This is the third time the Fair Work Ombudsman has taken legal action against Mr Wang and his companies for wage theft offences.
Courts have twice previously imposed penalties against Mr Wang and the former operator of the Fire and Stone Restaurant, Golden Vision Food and Beverage Services Pty Ltd, a company that was owned by Mr Wang.
Wage theft should be a criminal offence
Industrial relations advocate Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au once again called for wage theft to be made a criminal offence.
“People like Mr Wang think they can rip off their workers without serious consequences, and he’s right,” Mr Heffernan said.
“Until we start locking up repeat offenders like Mr Wang, then he, and others like him, will continue to steal from their workers with impunity.
“As this case clearly shows, current penalties for wage theft are not effective deterrents, so both state and federal governments need to get serious and introduce criminal penalties – just like there are for all other forms of theft.”
Ombudsman investigated after complaint
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said inspectors investigated the resort restaurant after receiving a complaint from one of its workers.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman is committed to holding business operators to account, particularly when disputes arise involving vulnerable workers,” she said.
“Australia’s minimum pay rates apply to everyone – they are not negotiable.”
Mr Wang faces penalties of up to $12,600 for each breach and his company up to $63,000 for each breach.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking orders requiring the company to provide workplace relations training for Mr Wang and other senior managers and to commission an audit to ensure it is complying with workplace laws.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on 19 February 2019.
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
1300 1 THEFT (1300 184 338)
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