A restaurant operator in north west Tasmania has agreed to reimburse three employees almost $15,000 after failing to pay them during a downturn in business.

The employer continued to request that two full time food and beverage attendants and a casual chef turn up for work, but did not pay them anything for six weeks.

The Fair Work Ombudsman contacted the restaurant after receiving a request for assistance from one of the unpaid workers.

Fair Work inspectors advised the employer of its workplace obligations, explaining that minimum wages had to be paid on-time, even during a downturn.

The operator subsequently co-operated with Fair Work inspectors and devised a re-payment plan to ensure the workers received all outstanding entitlements.

“Financial difficulties or a downturn in business do not mean that an employer is exempt from meeting its lawful obligation to pay employees their full lawful minimum entitlements as they fall due,” Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said.

“When we find issues like this, our preference is to educate employers about their obligations and assist them to put processes in place to ensure the mistakes are not repeated.’’

James said the business avoided enforcement action because it co-operated, agreed to back-pay all monies owed and committed to ongoing compliance with its obligations.

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