A chef was ripped off by an Albury cafe owner the workplace regulator alleges.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking legal action over the alleged wage theft and alleged pay slip breaches.
Chef allegedly ripped off by cafe owner
Facing the Federal Circuit and Family Court is sole trader Joanne Maree McKenna, who operates Rita’s Kitchen in Albury, New South Wales.
The regulator started investigating the business after a wage theft complaint from the full-time chef Ms McKenna had employed at the cafe between July 2016 and July 2022.
Following the investigation, Fair Work issued Ms McKenna with a Compliance Notice in December 2022.
An inspector had formed the belief that Ms McKenna failed to pay the worker his full payment in lieu of notice of termination entitlements at the end of his employment.
Fair Work also alleges a breach of pay slip laws.
The Compliance Notice required Ms McKenna to calculate and then back-pay the outstanding amounts, which she allegedly failed to do.
In fact, it is understood the chef has only been partially back-paid.
‘Get out of jail free’
Industrial advocate warned employers not to ignore Compliance Notices from the regulator.
“A Compliance Notice is really a ‘get of jail free’ card,” Mr Heffernan said.
“The Notices glive an employer a chance to rectify any wage theft without further court-ordered penalties.”
Mr Heffernan said the hospitality sector is rife with wage theft.
“If you work in a restaurant or cafe – always check your wages – and if you are being ripped off, get in touch with us today.” Mr Heffernan said.
Meanwhile, Fair Work is seeking penalties against Ms McKenna.
She faces a maximum penalty of $8,250 for the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice in addition to a penalty of up to $16,500 for the alleged pay slip breach.
The regulator is also seeking a court order for Ms McKenna to pay the outstanding entitlements owed, plus superannuation and interest.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court in Sydney has a directions hearing listed this month.
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Regulator commits to enforcing workplace laws
Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
“Where employers do not comply, we will then take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can also order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” Ms Booth said.
“Employers should also be aware that taking action to improve compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector is a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman.”
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