A Paddington restaurant faces ten times higher than normal fines after allegedly contravening the Fair Work Act. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) claims Moga Paddington continued to underpay its workers following formal cautions. The increased penalties apply to contraventions of the Protecting Vulnerable Workers amendments introduced in 2017.
The FWO claim Moga paid flat hourly rates and failed to pay penalty rates for weekend and overtime work. The underpayments allegedly affected 34 staff, mostly visa holders on 417 working holiday visas. The staff worked as waiters, cooks, kitchenhands and dishwashers.
The Protecting Vulnerable Workers amendments to the Fair Work Act provide for increased penalties for ‘a systemic pattern of conduct affecting more than one person’.
The alleged underpayments range from $58 to $9,588. However, Moga made partial payments following the FWO launching legal action. Under the new laws, Moga risks a potential fine of $630,000 per breach in addition to back-paying the staff in full.
The case, due in court on Tuesday, will be the first in Queensland where the FWO will apply for the increased penalties.
Protecting Vulnerable Workers
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims said the Protecting Vulnerable Workers amendments were introduced in the wake of the 7-Eleven wage scandal.
“The FWO’s action against 7-Eleven saw 4,000 employees receive $173,000,000 in underpaid wages, interest and superannuation. The days of employers taking advantage of workers on visas are over. The systemic exploitation of vulnerable workers witnessed earlier should be consigned to the past with the level of penalties now available to the FWO.
“All workers in this country enjoy the same rights, regardless of nationality or visa status.
“Employers face serious penalties if they fail to pay workers properly and keep required records of those payments.”
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