A former manager of a resort restaurant in Queensland faces legal action from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for a third time in three years for continuing to underpay staff.
The FWO alleges that nine employees of the Fire and Stone Restaurant on Moreton Island in Queensland were underpaid a total of $2,239 between March and October 2017.
These alleged underpayments, which were mainly to young travellers on working holiday visas, have since been rectified.
It is also alleged that record-keeping and pay slip laws with respect to the underpaid employees, as well as a further seven employees, have also been breached.
Jia Ning Wang, the restaurant’s former manager, is alleged to be have been responsible for setting pay rates, issuing pay slips and approving and/or processing employees’ wage payments during the period from March to August 2017.
The FWO conducted an investigation after it received an allegation of underpayment from an employee at the restaurant.
Mr Wang faces individual penalties of up to $12,600 per breach, while the company that owns the restaurant, Auspac Hospitality Management, faces penalties of up to $63,000 per breach.
The case will be heard at the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on 19 February.
Not once, not twice…
Sandra Parker of the FWO said “It is very disappointing to commence legal proceedings against an individual for a third time for alleged breaches of workplace laws.”
“Mr Wang has twice previously been penalised in Court for significant breaches of workplace laws, yet we allege he has continued to engage in non-compliant behaviour,” she said.
The FWO first secured penalties against Mr Wang and his own company, Golden Vision Food and Beverage Services Pty Ltd, which previously operated the Fire and Stone Restaurant, in 2016.
Mr Wang received a personal fine of $3,500 and Golden Vision, $17,500, for paying just $10 per hour to a young Chinese worker.
In 2017, he was fined by the FWO again. This time a personal fine of $20,366 and a company fine of $51,830 for paying a foreign employee below award rates. The worker refused to accept this and Mr Wang later dismissed her by text.
Golden Vision later sold the restaurant and went into administration. The 2017 penalty still hasn’t been paid.
Ms Parker says “The Fair Work Ombudsman is committed to holding business operators to account, particularly when disputes arise involving vulnerable workers. Australia’s minimum pay rates apply to everyone – they are not negotiable and any workers with concerns should contact us.”