Echuca cafe operator in court

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operator of a café in regional Victoria.

Facing court is Hospitality 3564 Pty Ltd, which operates ‘Café 3564’ in Echuca, and the company’s sole director David Bowman.

The regulator investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a worker who was employed as a cook at the café between July 2017 and September 2019.

The worker, from China and aged in his 20s, was a visa-holder at the time.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Hospitality 3564 Pty Ltd in October 2020 after forming a belief the worker had not been paid all entitlements owed.

The inspector formed a belief the worker had been underpaid a total of $45,731.29 in minimum wage rates, overtime, penalty rates, meal break penalties and a split-shift allowance under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

The Compliance Notice required the company to rectify the alleged underpayment in full, and to calculate and back-pay additional annual leave and superannuation entitlements believed to be owed to the worker.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Hospitality 3564 Pty Ltd, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice. It is alleged Mr Bowman was involved in the contravention.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and take business operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” Ms Hannah said.

The FWO is seeking penalties for the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice. Hospitality 3564 Pty Ltd faces a maximum penalty of $33,300 and Mr Bowman faces a maximum penalty of $6,600.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a court order for Hospitality 3564 Pty Ltd to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, including rectifying underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest. A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 21 October 2021.

Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

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