Inscape Projects

The former operators of Upper East Side Bondi in Sydney have been hit with penalties totalling $164,635 for workplace breaches described as “extensive and deliberate”.

The Fair Work Ombudsman began investigating Upper East Side Bondi Pty Ltd years ago, issuing two compliance notices to the company and its director Julia Rose Gelonese in 2020 requiring the business to back-pay eight staff.

Staff, some of which were overseas workers on visas, had not been paid minimum wage, overtime, evening and weekend penalty rates, casual loadings, and annual leave entitlements.

The notices were not complied with, resulting in the Fair Work Ombudsman taking Gelonese and Upper East Side Bondi Pty Ltd to court in 2021 and securing a penalty of $22,050 against the company and $4,410 against Gelonese.

The Fair Work Ombudsman soon commenced a second litigation concerning compliance notices and false information given to Fair Work inspectors.

It was found Gelonese provided false documents on 12 different occasions between January and May 2021, which in effect confirmed the workers had been back-paid when they had not been.

Now, a second round of penalties have been imposed on the company.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $137,196 penalty against Upper East Side Bondi and a fine of $27,439.20 to Gelonese for failing to back pay workers and knowingly providing false documents to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“The penalties should be set at a level that signals to all persons who are involved in responding to a compliance notice… that there would be no advantage in giving false or misleading information intentionally or recklessly,” Judge Manousaridis said.

In addition to paying the penalties and back-pay, the company has been ordered to provide evidence of payments to the Australian Taxation Office of PAYG amounts withheld from payments made to employees.

“It is disappointing that we have had to twice take legal action against these business operators for breaching workplace laws,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth.

“We have no tolerance for the deliberate providing of false information and any employer who does so is at high risk of being taken to court.”