A Thai restaurant in the Brisbane CBD will overhaul its workplace practices after the Fair Work Ombudsman found it underpaid three international students a total of $27,164.
Phat Elephant restaurant and owner Alyssa Phadungkiat have entered into a Court Enforceable Undertaking after underpaying workers between August 2016 and February 2018.
Fair Work Inspectors investigated after three Phat Elephant employees requested assistance. All three were Thai nationals in their late 20s on student visas during their employment.
Inspectors found the employees had been paid unlawfully low flat rates of between $12 and $17 an hour, resulting in underpayment of the ordinary hourly rates, casual loadings and weekend penalty rates they were entitled to under the Restaurant Industry Award.
The three employees were underpaid amounts of $13,141, $7,840 and $6,183.
Inspectors found laws relating to record-keeping and providing breaks were also breached, and the restaurant failed to comply with a Notice to Produce employment records issued during the investigation.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said Phat Elephant avoided litigation by promptly back-paying the workers in full and committing to measures aimed at ensuring future compliance.
“Every worker in Australia has the same workplace rights, regardless of their citizenship or visa status. It is unlawful and unacceptable to pay migrant workers a so called ‘market rate’ that undercuts the applicable minimum Award rates. The Australian market rate for these workers is not negotiable,” Ms Parker said.
Under the Court Enforceable Undertaking, Phat Elephant has agreed to make a $10,000 donation to the Multicultural Community Centre.
The restaurant is also required to engage an external professional to complete three audits of the pay and conditions of all employees, commission workplace relations training for managers and demonstrate how it is complying with the Fair Work Act.
“Phat Elephant’s staff are predominately international students who can be vulnerable, and this undertaking will help to ensure they receive their full entitlements in future. All employers have a lawful responsibility to make themselves aware of the minimum wages and entitlements that apply to their employees, and to pay them in full,” Ms Parker said.
Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. Small business callers can receive priority service via the Small Business Helpline and an interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.