The former operators of an Italian restaurant in Canberra have been penalised for failing to comply with a Compliance Notice issued by the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Federal Circuit and Family Court imposed a $12,500 penalty against GK Food Bars & Restaurants Pty Ltd, which formerly operated the La Pasteria restaurant and an additional $3500 penalty against company director George Varvaritis.
The penalties were imposed in response to the company breaching the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to back-pay two workers, with Varvaritis deemed to have been involved in the contravention.
The Fair Work Ombudsman launched an investigation after receiving requests for assistance from two former workers. A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to the company in January 2020 upon determining that the company had failed to correctly pay the two workers.
The inspector noted that one worker, employed on a casual basis as a cook at La Pasteria from May to July 2019, was underpaid casual minimum rates and superannuation owed under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010. The other worker, who was employed as a full-time head chef from April to August 2019, was found to have been underpaid wages for hours worked in his final two weeks of work and not paid accrued annual leave entitlements at the end of his employment.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.
“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Parker said.
In addition to the penalties, the court has also ordered GK Food Bars & Restaurants Pty Ltd to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, which includes calculating and rectifying underpayments owed to the two workers, plus superannuation and interest.