Sushi chain caught falsifying pay records

7 November 2016

A sushi restaurant chain has narrowly avoided legal action for producing false pay records by agreeing to overhaul practices across its outlets and donate $10,000 to a community organisation.

Shinobu Sushi Bar Pty Ltd provided inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman with false records during an audit of its outlet at Park Beach Plaza in Coffs Harbour, NSW.

The audit was part of an ongoing Fair Work Ombudsman compliance activity that involves visits by Fair Work inspectors to more than 40 sushi outlets across Northern NSW, Newcastle, Central Coast NSW, the Gold Coast and Canberra, to check workers are being correctly.

After inspectors challenged Shinobu Sushi Bar over the authenticity of the records, the company admitted it did not keep any records and that the records it provided were false.

The lack of records prevented inspectors from assessing whether staff at the Coffs Harbour outlet, including overseas workers on student and 417 working holiday visas, were being paid correctly.

Shinobu Sushi Bar also has an outlet in Adelaide and an outlet at Rockhampton, in Queensland.

The company and its operator, Xiaoqiang “Johnny” Lin have agreed to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with the Fair Work Ombudsman, as an alternative to litigation.

Under the terms of the EU, Shinobu Sushi Bar has made one $5000 donation to the Queensland Working Women’s Centre and will make another $5000 donation to the organisation next year.

The company will also undertake measures aimed at improving compliance, including engaging an independent specialist to audit practices across its stores in each of the next two years; upgrading its systems and processes to ensure future compliance; registering with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s My Account portal; and commissioning workplace relations training for managers.

The company must also apologise to the workers and display notices in its workplaces that detail its contraventions and provide information about minimum lawful entitlements.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the company narrowly avoided legal action by admitting its contraventions when challenged and agreeing to a range of remedial outcomes, which could not have been achieved through litigation in Court.

Ms James says business operators need to be aware that deliberate contraventions of record-keeping laws are being treated particularly seriously. In the 2015-16 financial year, 16 of the 50 legal actions (32 per cent) commenced by the Fair Work Ombudsman involved allegations of knowingly false or misleading records.

“I welcome the Government’s commitments to enhance workplace laws to better protect vulnerable workers, including increasing applicable penalties for serious record-keeping breaches,” she said.

Ms James said she was also concerned about the number of instances of non-compliance matters among culturally and linguistically diverse business owners who employ overseas workers.

"I want to make it clear that all employers in Australia must comply with workplace laws," she said.

Employers or workers seeking assistance can visit or phone the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50

Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO external-icon.png, the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au External link icon or find us on Facebook External link icon.

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Media inquiries:

Bryan Littlely, Assistant Director, Media
Mobile: 0447 692 007

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