Sushi restaurant operator penalised $80,000

22 December 2021

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured $80,000 in penalties in court against the operator of a sushi restaurant on Bribie Island, just north of Brisbane.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed the penalties against SMH Food Pty Ltd trading as Shinsen Sushi restaurant.

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 calculate and back-pay two visa workers’ outstanding entitlements, and for failing to issue pay slips to either of those workers.

The court imposed $27,000 in penalties for each Compliance Notice with respect to the failure to comply with the notices, and a further $26,000 for not issuing payslips to the workers.

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

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

“Matters that involve the alleged underpayment of visa holders are serious, as they may be vulnerable in the workplace. All workers have the same rights in Australia regardless of visa status and anyone with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”

The regulator investigated after receiving requests for assistance from two South Korean 417 working holiday visa holders who were employed full-time at the restaurant between October 2019 and August 2020.

A Fair Work Inspector issued two Compliance Notices to SMH Food in January 2021 after forming a belief the workers had not been paid entitlements owed under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010.

The inspector formed a belief the workers were underpaid minimum rates for ordinary hours, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, overtime rates and annual leave entitlements.

Employers and employees can visit 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. Anonymous reports can be made in English and 16 other languages. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

The FWO also has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs, called the Assurance Protocol, where visa holders with work rights can seek our help without fear of their visa being cancelled. Information is available at our webpage for visa holder workers.

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