The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking legal action against three sushi outlets in Newcastle, Canberra and the Gold Coast for allegedly underpaying 94 employees a total of $694,628.
The ombudsman’s office confirmed almost a third of the affected workers were from the Kotara Hero Sushi store, where 30 people were allegedly underpaid a total of $211,296 over 15 months between 2015 and 2016.
Ombudsman Sandra Parker’s office has lodged a statement of claim in the federal court, starting proceedings against HSCC Pty Ltd, HSCK Pty Ltd and HSPF Pty Ltd, as well as company directors Deuk Hee “William” Lee and Hokun “Robert” Hwang and payroll officers Chang Seok “Tommy” Lee, Ji Won “Brian” Cho and Jung Sun “Jimmy” Kim.
It will be alleged in court that each person either aided or knew about the workplace law breaches.
According to the statement of claim, the Kotara Hero Sushi outlet had “false or misleading records” and did not pay the affected workers – all aged in their teens or early 20s – the required casual loading, Saturday loading, Sunday loading or overtime rates and short-changed employees $15,298 in superannuation.
It also alleged Hero Sushi did not pay sufficient public holiday loading to Kotara workers and failed to pay-out $18,751 worth of annual leave entitlements to full-time employees who were terminated.
The ombudsman’s office said many of the affected employees were young workers who were in Australia on student or working holiday visas from places including Japan and Korea.
“The FWO considers all allegations of worker exploitation seriously, particularly matters involving migrant workers who may have little understanding of their workplace rights or how to seek help,” Ms Parker said.
“Employers who deliberately contravene Australia’s workplace laws will be found out and could face legal action and significant financial penalties from the court.
“All workers in Australia have the same rights at work, regardless of citizenship or visa status. We have an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs where visa holders can ask for our help without fear of their visa being cancelled.”
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