The operators of two sushi outlets in Queensland have been penalised for ripping off workers.
The underpayments totalled $19,467 over a three month period in 2017, and involved nine staff.
The Federal Circuit Court found that while the underpayments were not deliberate, was they were “grossly reckless.”
Consequently, it imposed $125,700 in penalties.
Sushi outlets failed to pay wages and superannuation
Fair Work inspectors visited two ‘Sushi 79’ outlets at Brassall in Ipswich and Currimundi on the Sunshine Coast as a result of a wider audit operation.
They discovered A & K Property Services, which owns the stores, underpaid nine visa holders a total of $19,467 in wages and $7,416 in superannuation.
For example, the company failed to pay:
- legal minimum ordinary hourly rates,
- weekend penalty rates and
- overtime rates.
As a result, individual underpayments ranged from $214 to $4,857.
In addition, the company failed to accrue annual leave and personal leave entitlements.
The workers are all South Korean nationals, and are in Australia on various visas.
Furthermore, inspectors found the company failed to keep proper time and wages records in addition to failing to issue pay slips.
Breaches ‘particularly serious’
Judge Michael Jarrett described the record-keeping breaches as “particularly serious”:
“When an employer does not make and keep employment records, an effective safety net for employees is difficult to maintain and results in those employees being more vulnerable to exploitation.
“I am satisfied that the respondents’ conduct, whilst not deliberate, was plainly grossly reckless.”
As a result, Judge Jarrett ordered A & K Property Services to pay $108,000 in penalties, and director Yong Sin Kim to pay $10,600.
Additionally, fellow directors Hyun Jun Kang and Jungpyo Lee were each penalised $3,550.
Poor record keeping can cost
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au said the case highlights the consequences of poor record keeping.
“Employers must keep accurate time and wage records,” he said.
“And they must provide pay slips to their employees within one day of their pay day.”
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