The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recovered $582,450 in wages for 376 underpaid workers as a result of a widescale audit of Hobart’s “cheap eats” food precincts.
Fair Work Inspectors looked at 45 businesses in those precincts and found that 35 of them failed to comply with workplace laws, with 32 businesses found to have underpaid their workers and 24 failing to meet payslip and record-keeping requirements.
In response to the breaches, the FWO issued 34 Compliance Notices, as well as 22 Infringement Notices, which resulted in $30,030 in fines paid.
The amount of backpayments for the underpaid employees ranged from $868 for three workers to $150,905 for 55 employees.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker stated that the unannounced audits were part of a national program that has also targeted cheap eat precincts in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
“Our intelligence-led activities have hit food precincts around the country because they commonly employ a high proportion of young and migrant workers who can be vulnerable to exploitation,” Parker said. “Protecting vulnerable workers such as students and visa holders and improving compliance in the fast food, restaurants and cafés sector are ongoing priorities for the Fair Work Ombudsman.”
As a result of the investigation the FWO filed charges against one café employer. Set to face court is Welvin & Kevin Pty Ltd, along with company director Zhi Zhi Tan and company majority shareholder and manager Qingxiang (Kevin) Meng, for allegedly failing to comply with a Compliance Notice that required it to calculate and back-pay underpayments. The company, along with Meng, also allegedly failed to make and keep employee records.