Pizza franchisee faces court action

The former operator of a La Porchetta pizza outlet in Wagga Wagga, NSW, is set to face the court over alleged underpayments.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Little Italy Wagga Wagga Pty Ltd, which was the franchisee for the outlet until the franchise agreement ended and the outlet ceased operation last year, had underpaid an employee her annual leave entitlements under the Fair Work Act upon termination of her employment in 2020.

The young worker, aged 20 at the time, contacted the FWO for assistance when she realised she had been underpaid. Upon further investigation, a Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Little Italy Wagga Wagga Pty Ltd in December 2020 but the company, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s outstanding entitlements.

“Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors to deal with apparent contraventions of the Fair Work Act or industrial instruments, most typically Modern Awards,” Fair Work Ombusdman, Sandra Parker, said. “Where employers do not respond to or comply with these Notices, we will take appropriate enforcement action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties for not complying with such a Notice, in addition to back-paying workers as appropriate.”

The FWO seeks a penalty against Little Italy Wagga Wagga Pty Ltd of up to $33,300, as well as a court order for the company to take the action required to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying the alleged underpayment for the employee plus interest.

A hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 17 May 2021.