The operators of the Jade Willow Chinese Restaurant in Ulverstone, Tasmania have been slapped with $14,500 in penalties.

The Federal Circuit Court has imposed a $12,000 penalty against the company that operates the restaurant, Galb Pty Ltd, and a $2,500 penalty against the company’s sole director, Chao Liang.

The company and Liang breached the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a Compliance Notice (CN) requiring the company to calculate and back-pay entitlements for five young employees.

Jade Willow Chinese Restaurant was investigated in 2018 after an employee requested assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

A Compliance Notice was then issued after a Fair Work Inspector formed a belief that food and beverage attendants at the restaurant had been underpaid minimum wage rates, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, casual loadings, late night additional payments and minimum two-hour shift pay under the Restaurant Industry Award. The five employees had been paid flat rates of between $8 and $14 an hour.

“We make every effort to secure voluntary compliance with Compliance Notices but where they are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

“Employers also need to be aware that improving compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector continues to be a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

Judge Grant Riethmuller said the contraventions resulted in payment delays for young employees and that it was “only after proceedings were commenced to prosecute the respondents for failing to comply with the notices that the payments were made, some 18 months after the CN”.

“A subsequent underpayment discovered in November 2019 suggests little has changed, despite the respondents saying that systems are now in place to ensure compliance,” noted Judge Riethmuller.

Judge Riethmuller found that it was “most unfortunate” that court proceedings were needed and there was a need to deter others from similar conduct. “It is important that CNs are taken seriously by employers and not ignored,” he said.

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