Former Perth restaurant operators penalised

2 March 2023

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a total of $27,930 in court penalties against the former operators of a restaurant in Perth.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $23,310 penalty against The Emperor’s Court Pty Ltd, which formerly operated ‘The Emperor's Court’ in Wembley, and a $4,620 penalty against the company’s sole director Gia Gian Wong.

The penalties were imposed in response to The Emperor’s Court Pty Ltd failing to comply with Compliance Notices requiring it to calculate and back-pay entitlements to a visa-holder worker, from Thailand, who had been employed as a full-time cook at the restaurant in June-September 2020. Mr Wong was involved in the failure to comply with the Compliance Notice.

In addition to the penalties, the Court has ordered The Emperor’s Court Pty Ltd to take the steps set out in the Compliance Notice, including back-paying the worker in full, plus interest and superannuation.

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,” Ms Parker said.

“Employers also need to be aware that taking action to improve compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector and protect vulnerable workers like visa holders continue to be priorities for the FWO. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The FWO investigated after receiving a request for assistance from the affected worker.

The Compliance Notice was issued in July 2021 after a Fair Work Inspector formed a belief that the worker had been underpaid minimum wages, overtime rates, weekend penalty rates owed under the Restaurant Industry Award 2020 and leave entitlements owed under the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards.

Judge Allyson Ladhams said that The Emperor’s Court Pty Ltd and Mr Wong had not provided any reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the Compliance Notice and their conduct “demonstrates a deliberate disregard for their obligations under the Fair Work Act and the authority of the Ombudsman as a regulator of Commonwealth workplace laws”.

Judge Ladhams found that “the penalty for failing to comply with the Compliance Notice should be set at a level that demonstrates that there are serious consequences for failing to comply with a Compliance Notice”.

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 and information is available for employees and employers at our fast food, restaurants and cafes webpage.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs, called the Assurance Protocol, where visa holders with work rights can ask for help without fear of their visa being cancelled. Details are at our visa protections webpage.

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