Restaurant faces Court action over alleged underpayment of foreign worker

17 September 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 Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against the operators of a Melbourne restaurant, alleging a foreign worker was underpaid more than $14,000.

Facing court is Hongyun Chinese Restaurant Pty Ltd, which operates a restaurant of the same name on Bourke Street, in the Melbourne CBD.

Also facing court are company directors Zhu Chang Rong and Tao Moqin, who are part-owners of the restaurant.

Mr Zhu and Mrs Tao were allegedly involved in underpaying a kitchen hand/cook at the restaurant a total of $14,676 between June, 2010 and May, 2011.

The worker is a Chinese national aged in his 40s who speaks little English and was in Australia on a bridging visa at the time. He is now a permanent resident.

It is alleged the employee generally worked seven-days a week, working between 36 and 59 hours.

It is alleged he was paid a flat rate of $11.50 for all hours worked, but was entitled to receive more than $15 an hour for normal work and more than $20 an hour for some weekend, overtime and public holiday work.

It is also alleged the employee’s superannuation and annual leave entitlements were underpaid and that record keeping and pay slip laws were breached.

The Fair Work Ombudsman discovered the alleged underpayment when it investigated a complaint lodged by the employee.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says a decision to prosecute was made because of the significant amount involved for a vulnerable worker.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Mr Zhu and Mrs Tao were involved in Hongyun Chinese Restaurant committing several breaches of workplace laws.

Mr Zhu and Mrs Tao face maximum penalties of up to $6600 per breach and the company faces maximum penalties of up to $33,000 per breach.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a Court Order for Hongyun Chinese Restaurant to fully rectify the alleged underpayment, which has been only partially rectified so far.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Magistrates Court in Melbourne on October 10.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

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

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