Restaurant workers underpaid almost $15,000

An operator in northwest Tasmania has agreed to reimburse three restaurant workers almost $15,000 after failing to pay them during a downturn in business. The employer continued to request that two full-time food and beverage attendants and a casual chef turn up for work, but did not pay them anything for six weeks.

The Fair Work Ombudsman contacted the operator after receiving a request for assistance from one of the unpaid restaurant workers. Fair Work inspectors advised the employer of its workplace obligations, explaining that minimum wages had to be paid on time, even during a downturn.

The operator subsequently co-operated with Fair Work inspectors and devised a re-payment plan to ensure the workers received all outstanding entitlements.

“Financial difficulties or a downturn in business do not mean that an employer is exempt from meeting its lawful obligation to pay employees their full lawful minimum entitlements as they fall due,” Fair Work Ombudsman Ms Natalie James says.

“When we find issues like this, our preference is to educate employers about their obligations and assist them to put processes in place to ensure the mistakes are not repeated,” adds James.

James says the business has avoided enforcement action because it co-operated, agreed to back-pay all monies owed and committed to ongoing compliance with its obligations.

She says it is important that there be a level playing field in relation to business costs to ensure there is a fair, competitive environment for employers who are doing the right thing.

James says the Agency is working hard to build a culture of compliance with workplace laws in Australia by providing practical advice that is easy to access, understand and apply.

The Agency’s Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) provides advice about pay, shift, leave and redundancy entitlements. Visit www.calculate.fairwork.gov.au to learn more.

Inside Small Business

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