Franchise cafe outlets fined $80,000

By Sarah Stowe | 20 Mar 2018 View comments

Two Han’s Caf_ outlets in Perth have been fined $80,000 after vulnerable staff were underpaid almost $100,000.

The penalties in the Federal Court in Perth are the result of the Fair Work Ombudsman taking legal actions in response to 27 staff at the Han’s outlet in Armadale being underpaid $67,161 and 22 staff at the Han’s outlet in Rockingham being underpaid $27,920.

Phua and Foo Pty Ltd has been penalised $35,000 in relation to underpayments at the Armadale outlet and Tac Pham Pty Ltd has been penalised $37,500 over the underpayments at the Rockingham outlet.

The general manager of the Rockingham outlet, Cuc Thi Thu Pham, has also been fined $7500 for her role in the non-compliance at that outlet.

Staff at both outlets were paid flat rates which were below the minimums in the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

Employees were underpaid minimum rates for ordinary hours, penalty rates and other entitlements.

Pay slip laws were also contravened at the Rockingham outlet.

All workers were back-paid in full last year.

The underpayments at the Rockingham outlet occurred despite the Fair Work Ombudsman having advised Pham and Tac Pham Pty Ltd in 2013 about minimum lawful Award wage rates after receiving an underpayment allegation from a worker.

Justice Siopis found that Pham’s lack of English fluency and alleged lack of comprehension of the advice provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman were not satisfactory explanations for the underpayments.

“It was also open to (Mrs Pham), if she was not able fully to understand the content or gravamen of her dealings with the FWO in 2013, to have obtained professional advice on this issue,” Justice Siopis said.

The penalties come after the Fair Work Ombudsman last year secured $37,500 in penalties in Court against the operator of the Han’s Caf_ chain, Tram Hoang Han, and two associated companies for record-keeping practices that were so poor they prevented the Fair Work Ombudsman from determining the full extent of underpayments of vulnerable overseas workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said “We appreciate that employers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds face challenges in navigating Australia’s workplace laws.

“However, it is not acceptable for employers to fail to make a reasonable effort to determine the correct pay rates for their staff.

“We have a particularly low tolerance for employers who fail to take action to rectify non-compliance issues even after we have informed them of their obligations and put them on notice to comply in future.”

James said it is now easier than ever for linguistically diverse communities to find out about their workplace rights and obligations, with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website now accessible in 40 languages other than English.

Visitors to www.fairwork.gov.au can now instantly translate website content, including fact sheets and information guides, with just the click of a button.