Restaurateurs pay to be docked to cover Fair Work penalties

22 March, 2016 by
Danielle Bowling

For the first time ever, a court order has been issued to ensure $500 a fortnight is taken from the pay-packet of an unscrupulous restaurateur who has neglected to pay outstanding penalties.

Sona Peaks, which is now in liquidation, and its then director David Anderson, previously ran Curry Garden Indian Restaurant in Bendigo, Victoria.

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In January 2015 it was penalised $15,500 for refusing to back-pay an employee owed more than $5,000.

Anderson originally refused to acknowledge a contravention letter and a Compliance Notice issued by the Fair Work Ombudsman, claiming he wouldn’t backpay the employee unless she provided a statement claiming she was kidnapped and forced to work against her will. He argued she had agreed on and not complained about the rates being paid.

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In July 2015, the company and Anderson were penalised $142,000 for repeatedly underpaying employees.

However, Anderson failed to pay the penalties imposed against him personally, leading the Fair Work Ombudsman to submit an application to the Federal Circuit Court, where an order was issued, requiring Anderson to pay $500 a fortnight until his penalties of $26,715 are paid off.

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It is the first time the Fair Work Ombudsman has successfully obtained an Attachment of Earnings Order, which ensures penalties do not go unpaid.

“If business operators and directors do not co-operate with us and ignore their workplace obligations, if they fail to make good and pay penalties, we will not sit on our hands and let them get away with it,” Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, said.