The operators of three PappaRich outlets have been penalised $307,000 for underpaying 150 workers $74,000.
Migrant workers on student and working holiday visas made up the majority of affected workers.
PappaRich penalised for wage theft
Loke Cheng Wong, runs the PappaRich outlet at Macquarie Park in Sydney.
Additionally, and used to run two others at Chatswood and another in the Sydney CBD.
The Federal Circuit Court penalised her $34,425 for the wage theft.
Furthermore, the Court penalised two of his companies $141,751 and $131,626, respectively.
PappaRich paid employees unlawful paid flat rates as low as $13 to $14.50 an hour.
As a result, the company failed to pay workers
- legal ordinary hourly rates,
- weekend and public holiday penalty rates,
- overtime rates
- and casual loadings.
In total, PappaRich underpaid
- 73 employees at the Macquarie Park franchise $34,834,
- 42 employees at the Chatswood outlet $22,533,
- and 39 employees at the city restaurant $16,633.
What the court said
Judge Rolf Driver dismissed Wong’s claim that he was not aware of the relevant Award:
“Mr Wong pleads ignorance of the relevant award requirements, but the evidence establishes that he was aware of the existence of an award and did not make further enquiries until the details of the Award, and the consequential underpayments, were brought to his attention.”
All the workers have been repaid.
No excuse for wage theft
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says employers often plead ignorance as an excuse for underpaying workers.
“We hear it time and time again – employers claim that modern awards are too complex to understand, well I say that’s bullshit,” he said.
“And the reason is, these people can pay their taxes properly, they can comply with food safety and handling standards, they can work out menus and count profit and losses, but when it comes to paying proper wages and entitlements, they throw their hands in the air and cry that it’s all too hard.
“Employers who don’t know how to pay their staff correctly should not be in business.”
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