Media release

2 December 2010

Fitzroy café fined $120,800 for underpaying two casual kitchen staff

The operators of a Fitzroy café have been fined a total of $120,800 for underpaying two kitchen hands following a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Kew man Giuseppe De Simone, who owns and operates Cape Café on Brunswick Street, has been fined $19,800 and his private company Compumark Pty Ltd, which employed the workers, a further $99,000.

The café’s former manager Alan Evers-Buckland, of Williamstown, has also been fined $2000. The penalties were imposed by the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Magistrate Kate Hawkins found De Simone and Evers-Buckland were centrally involved in Compumark breaching workplace laws by underpaying two casual kitchen hands amounts of $7061 and $1575 in wages and superannuation over periods of four to five months in 2006-07.

Magistrate Hawkins has instructed Compumark to back-pay the workers the money owed, plus interest.

The kitchen hands were underpaid their minimum hourly rates, overtime rates and weekend rates as a result of being paid flat hourly rates as low as $14.50.

Magistrate Hawkins said the underpayments were “deliberate” and “an attempt to ride roughshod over established legal entitlements”.

“There is a need to send a message to the community at large, and small employers particularly, that the correct entitlements for employees must be paid,” Magistrate Hawkins said.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the penalty sends a clear message that employers cannot get away with deliberately breaching workers’ rights and that underpaying staff is bad business.

“This employer tried to cut costs by short-changing its employees, but has now been saddled with significant fine and a bill for back-payment of wages,” Mr Campbell said.

“Successful prosecutions such as this also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws because it helps them to compete on a level playing field.”

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au For translations call 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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Page last updated: 02 Dec 2010