Thredbo restaurant caught underpaying staff twice in 12 months

24 September, 2015 by
Danielle Bowling

For the second time in less than 12 months, a restaurant in Thredbo has been busted by Fair Work for underpaying its staff.

In 2013, the Alfresco Pizzeria was randomly audited by Fair Work as part of compliance checks to ensure seasonal Snowfields workers were receiving their entitlements. The restaurant’s owner, Doug Edwards, was required to back-pay almost $23,000 to 22 employees and the Fair Work Ombudsman notified the venue that future contraventions of federal workplace laws could result in enforcement action.

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Despite this, when the business was next audited in August 2014, Fair Work found that 10 employees were being paid flat rates of between $11 and $28 an hour for all hours worked. These rates do not cover penalty rates and casual loading for evenings, weekends and public holidays.

The workers, as young as 15,17 and 19, were collectively underpaid more than $3,400 over three months from 30 June to 30 September last year, with individual underpayments ranging from $23 to $674.

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Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said Edwards has been asked to sign an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) aimed at encouraging behavioural change. The EU requires Alfresco Pizzeria and Edwards to:

  • Reimburse all outstanding entitlements to the underpaid employees, 
  • Engage an external accounting professional to audit the business’ workplace practices for August, 2015 and August 2016,
  • Place a workplace notice at the premises outlining the contraventions,
  • Send a written apology to the affected workers,
  • Register with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s online tool My Account and demonstrate the ability to determine employee entitlements using the pay calculator, and
  • Implement systems and processes to ensure future compliance with workplace laws.

“We use Enforceable Undertakings where we have formed a view that a breach of the law has occurred, but where the employer has acknowledged this and accepted responsibility and agreed to co-operate and fix the problem,” James said.

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“We know workplace laws can be complicated for the uninitiated, and for those who are not industrial experts, but we ask small business to use the tools and resources that we provide for them and not just apply arbitrary rates that seem ‘about right’.”