The operators of cafes in Richmond and Brunswick have back-paid 26 employees $24,947.

Two venues have now committed to improve their compliance with workplace laws by signing up to Court-Enforceable Undertakings (EU): Café Touchwood Pty Ltd, trading as Café Touchwood in Richmond and Cafecino Enterprise Pty Ltd, trading as A Minor Place café in Brunswick. Cindy Huyn, who is a director at both companies, has also signed up to the EUs, as has her husband Duy Phuong Dang, a shareholder and the business’s manager at A Minor Place café.

The companies each paid unlawfully low flat rates leading to underpayment of part-time employees’ minimum rates for ordinary hours, overtime, and weekend and public holiday penalty rates under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

Fair Work Inspectors found the part-time employees at each café received about $20 per hour, and Café Touchwood casual employees received between $17 and $22 per hour, between January and April 2018.

A Minor Place admitted to underpaying nine employees $2,633, with a largest individual underpayment of $598. All underpayments have been rectified.

Across the cafes, 23 of the 26 underpaid employees were young workers aged 25 or younger, including a 17-year-old at Café Touchwood. Some underpaid workers were visa holders, including from South Korea, Germany, Japan, the UK and India, with some on student visas.

Under the EUs, each company is required to make a declaration each six months for three years confirming that employees are receiving their minimum entitlements. They must also engage an external professional to complete three audits of the pay and conditions of all employees in 2019 and 2020, rectify any underpayments found, and commission workplace relations training for managers.

“These court-enforceable undertakings mean the companies have not only had to pay back the money owed to their employees, but will also face ongoing close attention by the FWO,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.

Under the EUs, the two companies will also make a combined contrition payment of $8,000 to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The investigations came off the back of allegations made in media reports.

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