The former operators of two Chinese restaurants on the Gold Coast have been penalised $225,500 for underpaying a visa holder more than $46,000 following legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Fu Kang GC Pty Ltd formerly operated the now-closed Fu Kang Gold Coast Chinese Restaurant in Labrador and Memory Taste of Fu Kang in Southport.

The company’s two directors Yingchun “Christine” Wang and Liangtao “Frank” Zhao were penalised a further $23,000 and $12,500 respectively.

The Ombudsman took action after receiving a request for assistance from the employee who worked as a cook at the restaurants from July 2015 to January 2017.

The worker, who was then a Chinese national sponsored by the company, kept a diary record of hours worked and the amounts he was paid.

It was found underpayments of $46,555 spanned across eight months between May 2016 and January 2017.

During the eight months, the employee worked between 22 and 87 hours per week and received cash payments between $200 and $600 per week, amounting to between $2.30 and $12.85 per hour.

“There is an element of exploitation that colours this case. [The employee] was a vulnerable person in that he relied upon [Fu Kang] for his ability to be in this country,” said Judge Salvatore Vasta.

“[Fu Kang] took advantage of that reliance by contravening the [Fair Work] Act in a manner which it is unlikely that it would have dared to perpetrate if the employee was not a vulnerable Visa holder.”

Both Wang and Zhao admitted to their involvement in some of the breaches including the production of false and misleading records.

Image Credit: Tripadvisor