The former operators of a Coffee Club outlet in Geelong, Victoria have been charged with $115,603 in penalties after they underpaid two young workers and falsified records.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $96,336 penalty against the former franchisee JMSL Pty Ltd and a $19,267 penalty against the company’s sole director Edison Peng, also known as Congyou Peng.

JMSL Pty Ltd and Mr Peng admitted to breaching workplace laws by underpaying two staff and providing false time and wage records to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The two workers were underpaid a total of $15,412, with one worker aged 19 to 20 underpaid $12,910 between May 2016 and August 2017, and the other aged 20 underpaid $2,502 over three months in 2018.

They were paid flat rates as low as $15 per hour resulting in underpayment of the junior hourly rates, casual loadings and weekend and public holiday penalty rates they were entitled to under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

The Fair Work Ombudsman was alerted to the case via requests from affected workers, with Mr Peng previously put on notice of his obligations under workplace laws during a prior underpayment investigation.

The investigation also discovered Mr Peng provided 66 false and misleading records to the Fair Work inspectors, overstating the rates the two workers were paid.

After the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action. JMSL Pty Ltd and Mr Peng back-paid workers in full.

Judge Caroline Kirton found JMSL Pty Ltd and Mr Peng took “deliberate steps” to falsify records and the workers had suffered “significant” loss.

“The deliberate provision of false information to a regulator is inexcusable and will be met with a strong penalty outcome,” Judge Kirton said.

The Coffee Club Cafe in Geelong now has new operators.