Restaurant operator fined for underpaying young foreign workers

30 July 2012

Note: Reference to prosecution in this media release is a general reference to the FWO commencing proceedings for the imposition of civil penalties and should not be taken to be a reference to criminal proceedings.

The former operators of a Brisbane restaurant have been fined a total of $59,400 for underpaying two young foreign workers.

Go Yo Trading Pty Ltd, which formerly operated the Ajisen Raman Noodle Restaurant on George Street, in the Brisbane CBD, has been fined $49,500.

The restaurant’s former part-owner and manager, Yojiro Nakauchi, of Tallebudgera, has been fined a further $9900.

The penalties were imposed in the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane on Friday after Nakauchi admitted he was involved in Go Yo Trading underpaying two casual food and beverage attendants at the restaurant a total of $7779 between October, 2010 and February, 2011.

Go Yo Trading has also been ordered to rectify the underpayments.

The fines and back-payment order are the result of an investigation and prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The employees – aged 20 and 23 at the time – are South Korean nationals who speak little English. They were in Australia on working holiday visas.

The employees were underpaid their minimum hourly rate, casual loading and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work.

They were paid between $9 and $12 an hour but were entitled to receive more than $18 an hour for normal work and more than $20 for some weekend and public holiday shifts. 

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully says the Court’s decision sends a strong message that underpaying vulnerable workers is a serious matter.

“Foreign workers have the same rights as any other worker in Australia and blatant breaches of those rights will not be tolerated,” Mr Scully said.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman is focused on protecting foreign workers because they can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their workplace rights. Youth, language and cultural barriers can also create difficulties.”

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

Information on the website is translated into 27 languages and a free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Penny Rowe, Media & Stakeholder Relations
0457 924 146
penelope.rowe@fwo.gov.au

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