The operator of Sushi Bay outlets and Moduwa Ramen and Bar in New South Wales, Darwin and Canberra is facing court for underpaying 163 workers a whopping $650,000.
It comes after Yi Jeong ‘Rebecca’ Shin, who is the owner and sole director of Sushi Bay Pty Ltd, Sushi Bay ACT Pty Ltd, Auskobay Pty Ltd and Auskoja Pty Ltd, faced court in 2019 for deliberately underpaying workers in Canberra, resulting in a penalty of $124,416.
The regulator is now alleging 163 workers – mostly Korean nationals on student, working holiday and 457 skilled worker visas – were underpaid a total of $656,141 between 29 February 2016 and 26 January 2020.
More than $600,000 of the alleged underpayments relates to workers located in New South Wales across outlets at Carlingford, Campbelltown, Charlestown, Forster, Glendale, Liverpool, Merrylands, Miranda, Miranda Westfield, Paramatta, Penrith, Rouse Hill, Shellharbour, and Wollongong.
Four workers in Darwin were underpaid approximately $32,000 and workers at an outlet in Belconnen in Canberra were underpaid around $13,000.
Most underpayments occurred due to overtime rates as workers were paid flat cash rates between $14 and $17 an hour.
Minimum wage rates, weekend and public holiday penalty rates and annual leave entitlements were also underpaid and it is believed the companies knowingly made, kept or used false or misleading records.
In addition, 23 employees on 457 visas were forced to pay back hundreds of dollars from their wages under an unlawful cashback arrangement.
The repeated and systemic breaches are classified as ‘serious contraventions’ under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers law, which means the penalties are 10 times higher than those that would normally apply.
Shin faces penalties of up to $126,000 per contravention and Sushi Bay Pty Ltd, Sushi Bay ACT Pty Ltd, Auskobay Pty Ltd, and Auskoja Pty Ltd face penalties of up to $630,000 per contravention.
For the other alleged contraventions, Shin faces penalties of up to $12,600 per contravention and Sushi Bay Pty Ltd, Sushi Bay ACT Pty Ltd, Auskobay Pty Ltd and Auskoja Pty Ltd face penalties of up to $63,000 per contravention.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking court orders requiring the companies to fully rectify the underpayments, which are currently outstanding.