Thai restaurant operator penalised

3 September 2021

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a penalty in court against the operator of a Thai restaurant in Newcastle, NSW.

The Federal Circuit Court has imposed a $3,402 penalty against Supon Phiyasirikul, a sole trader who operated the Thai Square Warners Bay restaurant.

The penalty was imposed in response to Mr Phiyasirikul breaching the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring him to back-pay workers.

The Court has also ordered Mr Phiyasirikul to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, which includes calculating and rectifying underpayments owed to workers in full, plus superannuation and interest.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and 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,” Ms Parker said.

“Employers also need to be aware that taking action to improve compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector continues to be a priority for the FWO. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a worker who had been employed at Thai Square Warners Bay.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Mr Phiyasirikul in August 2019 after forming a belief he had failed to pay a number of workers, including some young workers and visa holders, their correct entitlements between July 2018 and June 2019.

The Inspector believed the workers had been underpaid minimum wage rates for ordinary hours, casual loadings, overtime, and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

Judge Robert Cameron said that Mr Phiyasirikul’s conduct “does not evidence contrition or recognition of wrongdoing” and found that there was a need to impose a penalty to deter him and others from similar conduct.

“The penalty to be imposed should include an element for specific deterrence and also general deterrence, particularly in light of the fact that the industry in which the respondent operated is notorious for its underpayment of employees,” Judge Cameron said.

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. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

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