NB Lawyers

The operators of Vege Rama in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley have been slapped with $204,4000 worth of penalties for underpaying a worker and falsifying payslips.

Riddhi Siddhi faced the Fair Work Ombudsman in court along with company director Ruchika Sharma, who both run a commercial kitchen along with the fast food outlet under the company name Riddhi Siddhi Pty Ltd.

The Fair Work Ombudsman commenced an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from a worker who was employed as a kitchen hand at the commercial kitchen from April 2018 to August 2019.

Siddhi breached the Fair Work Act by providing false payslips to the employee – who worked up to 66 hours per week but was only paid $11-13 per hour – and Fair Work inspectors.

The payslips indicated the worker had been adequately paid, when it was far from the case.

Judge Salvatore Vasta found Siddhi and Sharma provided the false records to the Obudsman in “an attempt to obfuscate the truth and to ensure that any proper investigation was never able to be pursued”.

“The severity and seriousness of what (Siddhi and Sharma) have done cannot be overstated,” said Judge Vasta. “This was a deception that went to the heart of the fair industrial and employment system of this country.”

The Court imposed a $185,000 penalty against Riddhi Siddhi Pty Ltd and an additional penalty against Sharma.

“The need for the Court to impose a deterrent penalty, not just specifically but, very importantly, generally to all others who may be tempted to somehow pervert what it is that the Fair Work Act is doing with regard to the proper balance between the rights of employers and the rights of employees, must be made clear,” said Judge Vasta.

“The Courts will simply not tolerate such brazen contraventions of the intentions of the Commonwealth Parliament.”

The company back-paid the worker $59,500 plus interest and superannuation after the Ombudsman commenced legal action.