Bondi bar and restaurant operators penalised

20 December 2021

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured $26,460 in penalties in court against the operators of the Upper East Side Bondi restaurant and bar in eastern Sydney

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $22,050 penalty against Upper East Side Bondi Pty Ltd and an additional $4,410 penalty against its former director Ms Julia Rose Gelonese.

The penalties were imposed in response to the company breaching the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with two Compliance Notices requiring it to correctly calculate and back-pay underpayments and superannuation for full-time and casual staff. Ms Gelonese was involved in the breaches. 

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements and employers are held to account,” Ms Parker said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

In her judgment, Judge Brana Obradovic said the company had shown “a clear disregard for the seriousness of the obligations under the Compliance Notices”.

“The Court finds that the conduct of the respondents is highly aggravating, and that the penalties imposed should be in the higher range,” Her Honour said. 

“It is vital for the purposes of the Fair Work Act that the public is left in no doubt as to there being positive obligations to comply with statutory notices issued by FWO, such as compliance notices.”

Fair Work Inspectors commenced an investigation into the business as a result of multiple requests for assistance from employees working in front of house and kitchen roles. A number of employees involved were on student or working holiday visas.

The Compliance Notices were issued in October 2019 after an inspector formed a belief that employees had not received their full wages and entitlements under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 and the Fair Work Act, including penalties on weekends, evenings and public holidays, overtime rates and termination pay. The inspector formed a belief that some employees were not paid at all for periods of work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently commenced a second litigation against the company and Ms Gelonese for alleged failures to comply with later, separate Compliance Notices and for allegedly providing false or misleading information and documents to Fair Work Inspectors.

Targeted resources for employees and employers in fast food, restaurants and cafes are available at www.fairwork.gov.au/frac

Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

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Media inquiries:

Matthew Raggatt, Media Director (A/g)
Mobile: 0466 470 507
matthew.raggatt@fwo.gov.au