An Indian restaurant on the Gold Coast has promised to back-pay 22 workers to avoid court action.
The Fair Work Ombudsman offered the restaurant the chance to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking, instead of commencing litigation.
The regulator offered the agreement, despite the restaurant underpaying the workers $54,000 between January and May last year.
Indian restaurant promises to back-pay workers
Sridhar Penumechchu runs the Saffron Indian Gourmet restaurant, located at Broadbeach.
Fair Work began investigating the restaurant after receiving a complaint from one of the workers.
Inspectors found Penumechchu paid the 22 workers flat hourly rates between $15 and $18.50.
As a result, he failed to pay them lawful:
- ordinary hourly rates,
- casual loadings,
- and weekend and public holiday penalty rates.
Underpayments of individual staff members ranged from $143 to $9,457.
The Enforceable Undertaking
Under the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking, Saffron Indian Gourmet has started back-paying the workers through a payment plan.
The restaurant has also committed to engaging an external accountant to do two audits of the pay and conditions of all employees.
Furthermore, Penumechchu will organise workplace relations training for all managers, payroll and human resource staff.
Finally, he has agreed to make a $25,000 donation to the Gold Coast Community Legal Centre.
Enforceable Undertakings are a joke
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Fair Work Claims, is highly critical of Enforceable Undertakings.
“These cosy arrangements are an absolute joke, and also show the workplace watch dog is all bark and no bite,” he said.
“Fair Work is supposed to enforce workplace laws, however, it spends its resources educating recalcitrant employers, instead of taking them to court.
“It sends the message to greedy bosses that it’s okay to steal from workers because if they’re ever caught, all they have to do is pay back what they owe and promise not to do it again, and they are off the hook.”
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