Bubble tea operator to face court over the alleged underpayment of 20 employees

The operator of three bubble tea outlets in the Adelaide CBD has been summonsed to face court for allegedly underpaying its staff more than $186,000.

Facing court is Yuxuan Group Pty Ltd, which operates ‘Fun Tea’ outlets on Gouger Street, York Street and in Rundle Mall, as well as former Yuxuan Group director Yang Su for her alleged involvement in the record-keeping and payslip breaches.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Yuxuan Group underpaid 20 fast-food employees who worked across the three outlets a total of $186,895 and breached record-keeping and payslip laws. Several of the allegedly underpaid workers were visa holders, including international students. Four were juniors, aged under 21.

Fair Work inspectors found that the 20 workers had been paid flat rates of $10 to $18 per hour, which were insufficient to meet their entitlements under the Fast Food Award. The workers were reportedly underpaid minimum wage rates, penalty rates for evenings, weekends, public holidays and overtime work and superannuation while not being provided meal breaks or the minimum engagement requirements on occasions.

It was noted that the underpayments occurred across a two-week period in August 2019 and a nine-month period between April 2020 and February 2021.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman will hold business operators to account when we encounter allegations that involve vulnerable workers. All workers have the same rights in Australia regardless of nationality or visa status,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said. “Employers also need to be aware that compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector continues to be a priority for the FWO.”

Yuxuan Group Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $63,000 to $66,600 per breach and Su faces penalties of up to $12,600 to $13,320 per breach. The FWO also seeking a court order requiring the company to back-pay the 20 workers in full. It is alleged that the workers have been only partially back-paid to date.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court on 9 November 2021.