Former takeaway outlet operator in court

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the former operator of takeaway food business located in Townsville, Queensland.

Facing court is Vanessa Joan Housego, former owner-operator of Riverway Burgers, which is no longer trading.

The regulator began an investigation after receiving requests for assistance from six workers employed at Riverway Burgers for various periods between March 2020 and August 2020.

A Fair Work Inspector issued Compliance Notices to Ms Housego between July 2020 and February 2021 after forming a belief the six workers had not been paid entitlements owed under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 and Fair Work Act 2009.

It is alleged that two workers were not paid at all for work performed and that the other four workers were variously underpaid entitlements including minimum rates for ordinary hours, casual rates, weekend and public holiday penalty rates.

Three of the workers were aged 18 or under when they were employed at the outlet, including one aged 15.

The FWO alleges Ms Housego, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notices, which required her to calculate and back-pay the workers’ outstanding entitlements.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and take businesses 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.”

The FWO is seeking penalties against Ms Housego. Ms Housego faces a maximum penalty of up to $6,660 for each alleged Compliance Notice contravention.

The regulator is also seeking an order for Ms Housego to comply with the Compliance Notices, which includes rectifying any underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Brisbane today.

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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