Restaurant company director penalised

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured penalties totalling $6,300 in court against the director of two companies that formerly operated restaurants in Melbourne’s inner east.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed the penalty against Mr Barry Gold, the sole director of Goldream Pty Ltd and Plushbear Pty Ltd, both of which are now under liquidation.

Mr Gold’s companies formerly operated Tall Timber in Prahran (operated by Plushbear) and Friends of Mine in Richmond (operated by Goldream).

The penalties were imposed in response to Mr Gold’s involvement in the companies’ failures to comply with Compliance Notices issued under the Fair Work Act in 2019.

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

“When Compliance Notices are not followed we are prepared to take legal action, and business operators need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties. Employers can’t pick and choose which wage laws they follow,” Ms Parker said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance,” Ms Parker said.

Judge Anthony Kelly said in his written judgement that he accepted the contravening conduct was “both serious and extended over a period of time which thereby demonstrates a disregard by the [companies and Mr Gold] for the discharge of their obligations under the [Fair Work] Act”.

Judge Kelly agreed specific deterrence was an important consideration “…where Mr Gold appears to maintain substantial business interests as reflected by his ongoing directorships in no less than six other proprietary companies”.

“In those circumstances I agree there is a real risk Mr Gold’s future involvement in such enterprises carries an ongoing risk that employee entitlements will not be honoured with the result that he should be left in no doubt that contravention of the Act cannot be tolerated,” Judge Kelly said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated the companies as part of audits of Melbourne food destinations in 2018.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to each company in August 2019 after forming a belief that between December 2017 and June 2018, casual employees were paid flat rates of pay that underpaid entitlements to casual loading, overtime rates, minimum wages for ordinary hours and weekend and public holiday penalty rates, in contravention of the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

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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