Melbourne café to back-pay workers

The operator of an inner Melbourne café has entered into a Court-Enforceable Undertaking (EU) after the Fair Work Ombudsman found it had underpaid 32 workers a total of $37,520.

Super Max Coffee Pty Ltd, trading as Mitte Café in Fitzroy North, and director Mr George Younan have committed to a range of measures to improve their compliance with workplace laws.

Fair Work Inspectors found the company failed to pay workers minimum casual loadings, overtime rates and penalty rates for weekends and public holidays under the Restaurant Industry Award.

The casual workers were engaged serving customers, and as cooks and kitchen attendants at the time of the conduct between July 2017 and June last year. Twelve workers were aged under 26.

A 21-year-old worker was underpaid $3,582 after being paid hourly rates of $23 on weekends when entitled to $28.22, and $31.50 on public holidays despite being owed $47.03.

Under the EU, Super Max Coffee must promptly rectify the underpaid amount, and also make a donation of $2,000 to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The company is also required to engage an external professional to complete two audits of the pay and conditions of all employees in 2019 and 2020, rectify any underpayments found, commission workplace relations training for managers and demonstrate how it is complying with the Fair Work Act.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the company was included in a national campaign focusing on educating employers about their legal obligations and ensuring compliance.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman prioritises action in matters involving underpayments of young people as they may be unaware of their workplace rights or reluctant to speak up, particularly if they are experiencing wage problems in their first job.”

“Current and future employees of Mitte Café will have their rights protected through the measures implemented under the enforceable undertaking, including the need for the employer to provide a signed declaration every six months (for a period of 2 years) reporting all employees are receiving their lawful wages and superannuation entitlements,” Ms Parker said.

“Fair Work inspectors will continue to conduct targeted audits of businesses in the fast food, restaurant and café sector to improve compliance. We encourage any workers with concerns about their pay to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.”

Under the EU, the company must also provide an apology letter to all underpaid workers, display a workplace notice outlining the breaches, and publish the notice on its Facebook page.

Targeted information is available at Our Small Business Showcase makes it easier for small businesses to access resources on workplace laws.

Employers and employees can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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