Underpaid restaurant workers compensated after investigation

Ten underpaid Coffs Coast restaurant workers have been reimbursed their entitled pay rates.
Ten underpaid Coffs Coast restaurant workers have been reimbursed their entitled pay rates.

RESTAURANT and fast food workers on the Coffs Coast, many of whom are foreign workers, have been back-paid money following a recent investigation into local businesses by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Ten underpaid employees have been paid a total of $5,600.

In one case, a Chinese national at a fast food business was paid just $9 an hour for his labour.

With the Ombudsman's investigation that worker has now been paid $1,340 to ensure they receive the entitled $21 an hour pay rate.

The Ombudsman's office said back-payments for the remaining nine workers ranged from $90 to more than $800. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman's Overseas Workers Team identified the underpayments after auditing restaurants and fast food outlets in Coffs Harbour and surrounding areas in March. 

Those audits led to detailed investigations of 10 businesses for possible underpayments of wages to staff.

Chinese and Indian restaurants and fast food businesses were a particular focus of the audits based on information provided by the community.

The audits resulted in three workers being reimbursed about $530 prior to the investigations and only six of the businesses audited were found to be meeting their obligations under workplace law.

Of the 10 businesses investigated, three were meeting their obligations under workplace laws, four had both underpayment and record-keeping or pay slip breaches and three had record-keeping or pay slip breaches only.

One of the businesses was issued with a $350 fine for failing to include required information on pay slips and another was issued with a contravention letter requiring them to comply with workplace laws after multiple breaches were identified.

A further two employers were issued with letters of caution warning them over record-keeping issues and one will face continued monitoring to ensure it complies in the future.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman, Michael Campbell, said in cases where contraventions were found Fair Work Inspectors worked with employers to rectify issues and put processes in place to ensure the errors do not occur again.

"While it was disappointing to find contraventions, it was pleasing to see how willing most employers were to correct the errors without the need for further action," Mr Campbell said.

Topics:  coffs coast fair work ombudsman workers

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