Juice and coffee bar business penalised

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured $11,988 in penalties in court against a Melbourne-based juice and coffee bar and its director.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $9,990 penalty against Rika Foods North Melbourne Pty Ltd, which operated a juice and coffee bar located inside the Sonsa Markets in Collingwood, and a $1,998 penalty against the company’s sole director, Radomir Pantovic.

The penalties were imposed in response to Rika Foods failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to back-pay entitlements to a visa holder, from South Korea, employed at the juice and coffee bar on a casual basis for a short period in January 2021.

Rika Foods has recently back-paid the worker more than $1000.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Ms Hannah said.

“Employers also need to be aware that taking action to improve compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector continues to be a priority for the FWO. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The FWO investigated after receiving a request for assistance from the affected worker. The Compliance Notice was issued in April 2021 after a Fair Work inspector formed a belief that the worker was not paid any wages for 40 hours of work she performed during an eight-day employment period. The worker was entitled to have been paid the casual minimum wage under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010.

Judge Jonathan Forbes found Rika Food’s failure to comply with the Compliance Notice was deliberate and said that “the penalty should deliver sufficient sting” to deter others.

“Employers and others who receive such notices should be under no misapprehension about what is required of them,” Judge Forbes said.

Judge Forbes found that the loss incurred by the worker was significant and said “to not be paid at all is particularly egregious as it undermines the confidence a vulnerable worker will have in future employment and employers”.

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