A Cairns restaurant owner has been penalised a whopping $169,000 for underpaying a waitress $33,000.
The Federal Circuit Court penalised Miyuki Yogo and her company Poisson Pty Ltd, $168,924 for the wage theft.
Cairns restaurant owner penalised
Ms Yogo used to run the Mature Yogo restaurant in Cairns.
She sponsored the woman on a 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Visa to work as a waitress and later as a manager.
However, Ms Yogo failed to pay legal hourly rates, shift allowances, loadings, overtime and penalty rates and annual leave entitlements.
The underpayments happened between May 2012 and April 2015 and totalled $33,693.
The court also found Ms Yogo failed to issue pay slips and failed to keep employment records as required by law.
Strong deterrence needed
Judge John Middleton said a strong deterrence is needed to send employers the message that wage theft is unacceptable.
“There is a need to show there are serious consequences for failing to comply with Commonwealth Workplace laws.
“It is important that the community and employers understand that employees must be provided with their correct entitlements and that there must be accurate and compliant record keeping.”
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Tougher penalties needed
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan renewed his call for tougher penalties for employers who steal from their workers.
“The sad fact is, huge monetary penalties are proving ineffective as a deterrent against deliberate wage theft,” he said.
“Wage theft is rife in the hospitality industry because enforcement is ineffective and penalties inadequate.
“Governments therefore need to legislate to make wage theft a crime.
“Because until we start locking up dodgy bosses, they will continue to steal their workers’ wages.”
In addition to the huge monetary penalties, Judge Middleton ordered Ms Yogo to complete the educational courses for employers on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Meanwhile, Ms Yogo had back-paid the worker in full.
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