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Fair Work Ombudsman Once Again Fails To Prosecute Wage Theft

Fair Work Ombudsman once again fails to prosecute wage theft

The Fair Work Ombudsman has once again failed to prosecute a business that stole wages from its workers.

Instead of commencing legal action for the wage theft, the regulator offered the operators of a café to enter an Enforceable Undertaking.

This is despite the fact the business stole $32,000 from its workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman once again fails to prosecute

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says Fair Work uses Enforceable Undertakings too often.

As a result of the cosy deals, he says unscrupulous employers caught doing the wrong thing are let off the hook.

“Greedy bosses are stealing from their workers, therefore they should be hauled before the courts,” he said.

“Fair Work has an annual budget of $117 million to enforce workplace laws – therefore, it should do its job and enforce those laws.”

The latest case

The Mitte Café in North Fitzroy in Melbourne, and it’s director George Younan, underpaid 32 workers a total of $37,520 over the course of 12-months. 

Inspectors discovered the café failed to pay workers their:

  • minimum casual loadings,
  • overtime
  • and penalty rates for weekends and public holidays.

Younan underpaid one 21-year-old worker $3,582.

He paid the worker hourly rates of $23 on weekends, instead of the legal $28.22, and $31.50 on public holidays.

The Enforceable Undertaking

Under the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking, the company must repay the outstanding amounts.

Additionally, it committed to making a donation of $2,000 to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Furthermore, the company must also complete audits by an external professional to check it is paying workers properly.

Finally, it will write an apology to all of the underpaid workers.

“The message to businesses that rip off their workers is clear – go for it, because it’s highly unlikely you are going to get caught,” Mr Heffernan said.

“And even if you do, you’ll get nothing more than a slap on the wrist from Fair Work – it’s an absolute joke.”

Ombudsman defends the agreement

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker defended the use of Enforceable Undertakings.

“Current and future employees of Mitte Café will have their rights protected through the measures implemented under the enforceable undertaking, including the need for the employer to provide a signed declaration every six months (for a period of 2 years) reporting all employees are receiving their lawful wages and superannuation entitlements.”

Sandra Parker – Fair Work Ombudsman.

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