Two former fish and chip shop operators have been fined a total of $94,990 after the Sydney Federal Circuit Court found them guilty of underpaying staff.
3 staff members were underpaid $69,932 in wages and superannuation, which the company must now back-pay.
The former owner-manager of Thurgoona Takeaway, a fish and chip shop in Albury, NSW, was fined $15,048 and his company, Barry Scott Distributors Pty Ltd, fined a further $79,942 for what Judge Tom Altobelli described as “deliberate, or at the very least reckless” underpayments.
“Penalties in this case should be imposed on a meaningful level so as to deter other employers from committing similar contraventions,” Judge Altobelli said.
Three staff members, including two managers and an assistant manager, were paid $1,000 a week. This flat rate was enforced despite the staff working over 50 hours a week, including more than 100 hours a week on at least one occasion.
The underpayments occurred between July 2011 and May 2012, despite being told by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to comply with minimum pay rates in 2011.
The FWO had reportedly asked the company to back-pay employees for over 18 months, a factor Judge Altobelli called a “significantly aggravating” factor.
“In these circumstances, there is no other conclusion to be reached other than that the respondents have taken no corrective action whatsoever to rectify their contravening conduct,” Judge Altobelli said.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said this sort of conduct by employers and companies “will not be tolerated”.
“Successful litigations such as this also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws, because it helps them to compete on a level playing field.”