31 July 2009
$43,425 in fines for underpayment of Perth restaurant workers
Two companies and a director involved with Perth’s Shimizu Japanese restaurants have been fined a total of $43,425 for underpaying dozens of former workers, including young foreign workers with limited English.
In the Federal Magistrates Court in Perth:
• Golden Maple Pty Ltd, which operates two Shimizu restaurants in the Perth CBD, was fined $36,000 for five breaches of workplace relations laws,
• Cityteam Pty Ltd, which supplied two employees to work at a Shimizu restaurant, was fined $4125 for one breach of workplace relations laws, and
• Lawrence Chia, a director of both companies, was fined $3300 for one breach of workplace relations laws.
The breaches relate to underpayments totalling $11,200 of 44 workers at the Shimizu restaurants at Harbour Town and the Murray Street Mall. The underpayments occurred over a period of nine months.
Workplace inspectors discovered the underpayments during an audit in 2007. The majority of the underpaid workers were in Australia on working holiday visas.
Golden Maple underpaid 42 workers as a result of underpaying casual loadings, weekend penalty rates, the minimum hourly wage rate, laundry allowances and annual leave entitlements, and non-payment to two workers for ‘work experience’ of 20 hours. Cityteam underpaid the annual leave entitlements of two workers.
Chia, of Como, admitted his involvement in the breaches through his position in charge of the Shimizu restaurants’ day-to-day operations.
Fair Work Ombudsman WA Director Leigh Quealy says litigation was commenced in regards to the underpayments discovered in the audit because in two investigations prior to the audit, workplace inspectors had discovered underpayments of the minimum hourly wage rate and superannuation totalling $21,000 of more than 20 Shimizu workers.
“After the previous investigations we warned that issues relating to the underpayment of the Shimizu workers needed to be rectified – but unfortunately those warnings were not heeded,” Mr Quealy said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman’s preference is to work with businesses to help them rectify any compliance issues they have but in cases where an employer refuses to co-operate we do not hesitate to take them to court.”
In total over the audit and the two prior investigations, the Workplace Ombudsman discovered $32,000 in underpayments of 66 workers who had been employed at the two Shimizu restaurants in the Perth CBD. The workers have been back-paid all money owed.
The Fair Work Ombudsman promotes harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces. It also monitors compliance and investigates breaches of national workplace laws.
Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fwo.gov.au. For translations call 13 14 50.
Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser Media & Stakeholder Relations.
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924.