World Square.

The former operators of three Din Tai Fung restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne have been penalised $4 million in court by Fair Work for underpaying workers and falsifying records.

It’s the second-highest penalty ever secured by the Fair Work Ombudsman with Justice Anna Katzmann describing the case as serious and calculated.

“[They] deliberately deprived the employees of their legislated entitlements and contrived to disguise their wrongdoing through the creation of a false set of records,” says Katzmann.

“It goes without saying that the respondents’ conduct was extremely serious. This was not merely deliberate wrongdoing. It was deceitful and unscrupulous. It involved a calculated scheme to rob employees of their hard-earned wages and deceive the authorities.”

The Federal Court has imposed penalties of $1.99 million against DTF World Square Pty Ltd which employed workers at Din Tai Fung restaurants at the World Square shopping centre in the Sydney CBD, Chatswood and Emporium shopping centre in the Melbourne CBD.

$1.89 million was also imposed against Selden Farlane Lachlan Investments Pty Ltd, which employed workers at the Emporium store; $92,232 against former General Manager of DTF World Square Ms Hannah Handoko (also known as Vera Handoko); and $105,084 against former HR Coordinator of DTF World Square Ms Sinthiana Parmenas.

Fair Work investigated after receiving a request from an affected worker to find 17 employees were underpaid by $157,025 under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

Majority of the workers were Visa holders from Indonesia and China in casual roles, plus four four-time employees who were sponsored by DTF World Square Pty Ltd.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also found DTF World Square and Selden Farlane Lachlan Investments kept and provided both accurate and false records to inspectors, with false records generally understating hours worked and included false rates of pay for casual employees.

This action met the definition of ‘serious contraventions’ under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws because of the deliberate and systematic conduct.

Fair Work also found Ms Handoko and Ms Parmenas were involved in some of the companies’ contraventions but serious contraventions were not alleged against them.

“We welcome these penalties that demonstrate the serious nature of the offending by the respondents in this matter. Their actions resulted in vulnerable migrant workers being underpaid hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth.

“The court has characterised the conduct of Din Tai Fung as “a calculated scheme to rob employees of their hard-earned wages”. The FWO agrees that the underpayment of wages in this matter was extremely serious. Serious consequences await any business found to be engaging in such calculated and systemic conduct such as the type uncovered in this matter.”