FWO acts to enforce compliance with EU

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action to enforce the terms of an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with the operator of a Sydney restaurant.

Facing the Federal Circuit Court is Double Hats Pty Ltd, which operates the Vinh Phat Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Cabramatta.

The company entered into an EU in 2016 after paying staff flat rates as low as $18 per hour. The company back-paid 22 workers almost $80,000 and made a $5000 contrition payment.

However, the regulator alleges the company failed to comply with a term of the EU that required it to commission an external accounting professional to audit its compliance with workplace laws for a one month period in 2019, and rectify any underpayments identified.

The company is alleged to be over several months in default of the audit obligations. In line with the FWO’s proportionate approach to regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FWO attempted to secure voluntary compliance before commencing proceedings.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator was prepared to take legal action to ensure that the terms of Enforceable Undertakings are complied with.

“Enforceable Undertakings allow the Fair Work Ombudsman to achieve effective outcomes such as prompt back payment of workers and commit employers to ongoing compliance measures, which may not be possible through litigation,” Ms Parker said.

“However, if a company fails to fulfil the commitments it makes under an Enforceable Undertaking, we will take legal action to protect the integrity of our enforcement tools.”

The FWO is seeking court orders requiring Double Hats to comply with the terms of the EU by completing the audit, providing a copy of the audit report to the FWO and making back-payments, plus interest, to any underpaid staff.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on 25 August 2020.

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