$13 per hour is good pay: Bing Boy ordered to back pay employees

11 March, 2016 by
Aoife Boothroyd

An investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman has found that two Taiwanese restaurant workers were underpaid thousands of dollars by their employer, Bing Boy.

The employers – who spoke limited English – were wrongly employed as trainee workers and were underpaid a total of $9,466 during their employment at two Bing Boy Asian street food outlets in Melbourne.

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According to Fair Work, the underpayment occurred primarily because the franchisees treated the workers as trainees and paid them a flat rate of just $13 an hour for their first three months’ work, despite never registering formal training agreements.

When questioned by Fair Work about the underpayments, the franchisees said that the “common” rate for Chinese restaurant workers was $10 an hour and that $13 an hour was “good pay”, adding that employees should be happy to work for work for that amount.

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After the initial three month training period, the $13 hourly figure was raised to $19, however the correct minimum hourly rate for causal workers is $23.15 per hour.

Under the Fast Food Award, the two employees were also entitled to $27.78 an hour on Saturdays, $32.41 on Sundays and $50.93 on public holidays.

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One of the workers, (who also happened to be a 417 visa-holder) was underpaid $3953 between February 18 and June 30 last year while working at Bing Boy at Northland Shopping Centre.

The second worker was underpaid $5513 between November 7, 2014, and June 30, 2015, while employed at the Emporium Bing Boy outlet in the Melbourne CBD.

Fair Work has taken enforcement action against the two franchisees in a bid to encourage behavioural change and future compliance with federal workplace laws. This includes the signing of an enforceable undertaking which requires the franchises to:

  • Implement systems and processes to ensure future compliance with workplace laws;
  • Engage an external accounting professional to audit workplace practices;
  • Provide workplace relations training;
  • Register with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s online tool MyAccount and demonstrate the ability to determine employee entitlements;
  • Provide the Fair Work Ombudsman a copy of time and wage records for the employees for the first full pay period following the EUs’ execution;
  • Place a notice in the workplace and media about the contraventions and employer actions.   

“Employers simply cannot undercut the minimum lawful entitlements of their employees based on what they think the job may be worth, what the employee is happy to accept, what other businesses are paying, or what the job may pay in the employer’s or employee’s country of origin,’’ says Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James.

“Anyone establishing or operating a business needs to ensure they take the time to understand our workplace laws applicable to their business.

“Minimum rates apply to everyone – including visa-holders – and they are not negotiable,” she said.