Owner of sushi restaurants calls underpaid staff trouble makers
The owner of Bundaberg’s Nodaji Sushi restaurant and three other take-away sushi bars have been exposed for underpaying four foreign workers almost $28,600 in just six months.
Younsig Kang initially told Fair Work inspectors the Korean backpackers had agreed to work for below-Award wages, labelling them “trouble makers” after they approached the Fair Work Ombudsman.
However Kang eventually agreed to reimburse the workers, publicly apologise for his behaviour and give a commitment to comply with federal workplace laws in future. In addition, Kang’s two companies, Knodaji Pty Ltd and Taejin Pty Ltd, will each make a $5,000 donation to the Queensland Working Women’s Centre to help it promote workplace rights.
Knodaji runs the dine-in sushi restaurant at 25 Targo Street, Bundaberg, trading as Nodaji Sushi, and Taejin operates take-away sushi outlets in the food courts of the Sugarland Shopping Centre in Bundaberg, Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore and Stocklands at Hervey Bay.
In the case of Nodaji Sushi, Fair Work inspectors identified that a female Korean backpacker on a 417 working holiday visa had been short-changed $5,639 between February and July last year.
The employee was underpaid her minimum hourly rate, casual loadings, penalty rates for weekends and received no superannuation contributions. She was paid a flat rate of $14 an hour for Monday to Saturday when she should have received between $21.65 and $25.13 an hour.
The worker received up to $22.50 an hour for Sunday shifts but should have earned $28.60 an hour.
$12 a day was also unlawfully deducted from the employee’s wages for “food and drinks” even when she did not consume anything.
Fair Work inspectors also found that Knodaji breached workplace laws by failing to keep proper employment records and failing to issue employee payslips.
Additional inquiries by the Fair Work Ombudsman identified that three other female employees of Kang’s take-away sushi bars were short-changed more than $22,000 between January and July last year.
The individual underpayments were $8,006, $7,514 and $7,435.
The female employees were also Korean backpackers in Australia on 417 working holiday visas.
They were similarly underpaid their minimum hourly rates, casual loadings, penalty rates for weekends and did not receive superannuation payments. Again, the employees received $14 an hour for Monday to Saturday work but should have received up to $25.70, and up to $23.33 an hour on Sundays, instead of the correct rate of $29.26 an hour.
The employees also had $12 a day deducted from their wages for “food and drink” whether they consumed anything or not.
Both companies received an $850 on-the-spot fine, which were paid.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the companies have signed an Enforceable Undertaking, committing to a series of actions to ensure future compliance with federal workplace laws.
Each of the affected workers will get a written apology from Kang and his respective companies expressing “sincere regret” for the conduct.