The former operators of two Hello Juice outlets in Victoria have been penalised $276,929 for exploiting workers.
Federal Circuit Court Judge John O’Sullivan described the wage theft as “serious and deliberate”.
He also said the penalties will “act as a deterrent to others who may be minded to flout the law”.
Hello Juice operators penalised for deliberately exploiting workers
Skypic Group Pty Ltd and Skypac Group Pty Ltd previously operated Hello Juice outlets in shopping centres at Geelong and Werribee.
The court penalised the companies $161,988 and $80,325 respectively.
Judge O’Sullivan also penalised Hua Gong, the manager of both stores, an additional $34,616.
Details of the underpayments
Fair Work says the companies underpaid 27 employees a total of $38,458 over various periods in 2017.
The affected workers included 10 juniors under the age of 18.
Inspectors found the two outlets paid the workers unlawful flat rates, some as low as $10 an hour.
As a result, they failed to pay proper:
- ordinary hourly rates;
- casual loadings; and
- penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work.
The court also found Gong demanded a worker pay back $4,942 of her wages to cover part of a rectification payment and a tax refund payment made to her.
Additionally, Gong and both companies breached workplace laws relating to pay slips and record-keeping.
Furthermore, Skypic Group and Gong also failed to comply with a Notice to Produce records or documents, and gave inspectors false and misleading records.
Breaches ‘serious and deliberate’
Judge O’Sullivan described the breaches as “serious and deliberate”.
He said the penalties will act as a deterrent to others also considering flouting the law.
“It is also an illustration of, an all too common, a phenomena where employers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who exploit workers (including, or especially, from within their own ethnic communities) and then come before the Court and seek to rely on their own alleged ignorance of workplace laws or foreign cultural norms to mitigate any penalties that need to be applied when they are finally caught out”.
NOTE: Skypac Group Pty Ltd and Skypic Group Pty Ltd no longer operate the Hello Juice outlets in Werribee and Geelong.
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