The operator of Upper East Side Bondi, a restaurant and bar in Sydney’s east will face court on 3 April over allegations the business failed to comply with two Compliance Notices issued by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The notices required Upper East Side Bondi Pty Ltd and its director Julia Gelonese to correctly calculate and back-pay alleged underpayments and superannuation for a number of full-time and casual staff.

Multiple requests for assistance from employees working in front of house and kitchen roles lead to an FWO investigation, with an inspector forming the belief employees had not received their full wages and entitlements under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). 

According to the ombudsman, employees, including a number on student and working holiday visas, were not paid penalties on weekends, evenings and public holidays, overtime rates and termination pay.

It’s believed some employees were not paid at all for periods of work.

Upper East Side Bondi Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $31,500 per Compliance Notice, with Gelonese also facing up to a maximum penalty of $6,300 per Compliance Notice.

The regulator is also seeking a Court Order requiring the business to comply with its Compliance Notices, which includes rectifying the underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

Underpayments continue to be major issue for industry

The fast food, restaurant and café sector made up 56 per cent of the FWO’s new litigations last financial year. “The Fair Work Ombudsman is cracking down on alleged underpayments in the fast food, restaurant and café sector, particularly when it involves migrant workers,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker. “We will continue to utilise our full suite of enforcement tools to hold employers to account and any workers with concerns should contact us.”

In recent months, a number of the industry’s largest groups have faced backlash over underpayments. Early in February, Crown terminated Crown Melbourne terminating Dinner by Heston’s lease, after its owner Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd entered administration on 20 December 2019. George Calombaris’ Made Establishment then collapsed the following week, citing a decline in  on the back of a $7.8 million dollar underpayment scandal. Merivale will front court this week for a directions hearing, with employment law firm Adero launching a class action against the Sydney hospitality juggernaut over allegations it has underpaid employees an estimated $126 million.

Image: Broadsheet

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