Japanese restaurant admits deliberately underpaying visa-holders

The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced that the operators of a Japanese restaurant at Surfers Paradise have admitted they deliberately underpaid 16 casual employees tens of thousands of dollars.

The workers, many in Australia on 417 working holiday visas, were paid flat rates as low as $10 an hour to work as kitchen hands and wait on tables.

Under the Restaurant Industry Award, they should have been paid at least $21.09 for ordinary hours worked, up to $25.31 on weekends and $42.18 on public holidays.
Collectively, they were short-changed more than $31,500 when they worked for the Uchouten Japanese Restaurant between December 2013 and October 2014.

Operators Chiiko Minagawa and Moon Yeom admitted the underpayments were intentional and the restaurant operated on the basis that it would not be caught.

The wage fraud was discovered by the Fair Work Ombudsman after one of the workers went to the Agency's Gold Coast office requesting assistance.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the restaurant's admission that it deliberately exploited overseas workers is seriously concerning.

Ms James announced that the business faces enforcement action and has been requested to sign an Enforceable Undertaking (EU).

The EU requires:

  • Back-payment of all outstanding wages and entitlements,
  • A public apology for the conduct be placed in the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper,
  • Registration with the Fair Work Ombudsman's Online tool My Account,
  • Employment records be maintained and pay-slips issued to staff,
  • A commitment to future compliance with federal workplace laws,
  • Workplace relations training for managers with HR, payroll and recruitment functions, and
  • The appointment of an external professional to audit the business's compliance with workplace laws by the end of November 2016.
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