A Brisbane café operator has been penalised $139,800 after some of the venue’s employees were partially paid in food and drink.

Fair Work inspectors investigated the company after receiving underpayment allegations and found 11 employees at Café 63 Chermside were paid part of their wages in food and drink during two periods between August 2017 and January 2018. The employees, who were mostly visa holders including seven juniors aged under 21, worked as cooks, kitchen attendants and food and beverage attendants.

Timi Trading Pty Ltd, which operated Café 63 Chermside at the Westfield Chermside shopping centre, was slapped with a $95,000 penalty.

Rhe company director and manager Tien Hoang Le and company manager Minh Vo Duy Nguyen were involved in all of the company’s contraventions. They’ve also penalised, to the tune of $20,000 each.

In addition, Hamish Watson, the owner of the café 63 brand, has been penalised $4,800 for his involvement in one contravention.

Mr Le and Ms Nguyen were involved in breaches relating to all 11 workers and Mr Watson was involved in breaches relating to six of the workers.

Timi Trading’s conduct breached the provision of the Fair Work Act requiring that employees be paid in money.

Eight of the 11 employees were paid according to Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFAs) that provided for flat hourly rates and a list of ‘bonuses’ and ‘allowances’, instead of being paid penalty rates and overtime under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

The IFA ‘allowances’ included employees being allowed food and drink for the most part up to the value of $42 per day when working, including $20 in meals, $7 in desserts and $15 in drinks.

Timi Trading’s conduct also breached workplace laws by failing to ensure the IFAs passed the better-off-overall test and failing to detail in the IFAs how each individual was better off overall under the IFA.

Timi Trading also breached workplace laws by providing the FWO with false and misleading records, failing to make and keep proper records and failing to enter into written part-time agreements.

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