Penalty for food truck operator for underpaying 24 employees

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a penalty in the Federal Court against the former operator of a Brisbane fast-food outlet who ignored a Compliance Notice compelling it to back pay 24 former employees.

The Federal Circuit Court imposed a penalty of $14,175 penalty against SMC Food Truck Pty Ltd, which had operated the ‘Salts Meats Cheese’ outlet at the Garden Pantry precinct in the Queensland capital’s West End.

The court order was made after SMC Food Truck failed to comply with a Compliance Notice issued by the Ombudsman that compelled the company to calculate and settle back-pay for 24 former employees.

The Fair Work Ombudsman had attempted to get the company to voluntarily comply with the order, but commenced legal action when these efforts were unsuccessful. The company only back-paid its former employees in full only after the legal action was initiated.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker used the case to issue a reminder to all employers that failure to act on Compliance Notices will result in court-imposed penalties, as well as those companies having to back-pay underpaid employees in full.

“Employers 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,” Parker said. “Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The investigation into SMC Food Truck’s underpayments came on the back of FWO audits of 44 West End food precinct hospitality businesses carried out between December 2018 and March 2020. A Fair Work Inspector issued the Compliance Notice to SMC Food Truck in February 2020 after deeming that the company had underpaid 24 of its casual employees between October 2018 and February 2020. The employees did not receive full payment for casual, overtime, weekend and public holiday entitlements under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010.