Sydney restaurant ordered to backpay foreign worker $6,000

08 December, 2015 by
Aoife Boothroyd

A Korean visa-holder was found to have been underpaid over $6,000 during the five months of his employment at Tenkomori Ramen House on George Street, Sydney.

When the employee initially took the position at the Japanese ramen house, it was owned by Kaby Holdings Pty Ltd and operated by director Ben York Hung Yau, however in November 2014, the restaurant changed hands and is currently owned and operated by Tenkomori Ramen Pty Ltd and sole director Koji Aoki.

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An investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that the employee was underpaid $3049 by Kaby Holdings Pty Ltd, and a further $3290 by Tenkomori Ramen Pty Ltd.

Fair Work found that the employee did not receive the correct minimum hourly rate, shift loadings for evening work, penalty rates for weekends and public holidays or overtime during his employment.

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The Fair Work Ombudsman had previously sent a Letter of Caution to Kaby Holdings in September 2013 over concerns about its failure to pay minimum hourly rates and applicable penalty rates. Both Yau and Aoki have now co-operated with the Fair Work Ombudsman and agreed to reimburse all outstanding wages and entitlements and have also been asked to sign Enforceable Undertakings (EUs).

Both companies will also bring in external, independent professionals to audit their workplace compliance in 2016 and implement systems and processes to ensure their future compliance.

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“Migrant employers simply cannot undercut the minimum lawful entitlements of their employees based on what they think the job may be worth, what the employee is happy to accept, what other businesses are paying, or what the job may pay in their country of origin,” she Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James.

Last month, Federal Circuit Court judge Stewart Brown cautioned employers who underpay vulnerable overseas workers that they risk tarnishing Australia’s reputation internationally.

“Employers in the hospitality industry need to know that they cannot exploit backpackers or other itinerant employees and expect that their behaviour, if detected by authorities, will not attract a significant penalty,” Judge Brown said.

The Court imposed penalties totalling $73,000 against the former owner-operators of a caf in Darwin which had underpaid two Taiwanese workers in Australia on the 417 working holiday visa.