The Court found that 94 workers across the three Hero Sushi outlets were paid flat rates as low as $12 an hour, resulting in underpayments of $700,832.88 between April 2015 and July 2016.
Many of the workers were young overseas workers, including Korean and Japanese nationals on international student and working holiday visas.
Inaccurate hours of work and pay rates were recorded on documents provided to Fair Work Inspectors on 11 different occasions.
The court found that each of the individuals aided and abetted or were knowingly concerned in some of the company’s breaches of workplace laws.
Fair Work Inspectors discovered the underpayments when auditing the Hero Sushi outlets at Kotara in Newcastle and Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast, and the Hero Sushi kiosk at the Canberra Centre during a proactive activity targeting sushi businesses in 2016.
The operators underpaid employees’ minimum hourly rates, casual loadings, penalty rates, overtime, clothing allowances and annual leave entitlements under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010. Superannuation was also underpaid and pay slip laws were breached. In total:
- 30 employees were underpaid $215,066.45 at the Newcastle outlet
- 43 employees were underpaid $293,451.26 at the Canberra outlet
- 21 employees were underpaid $192,315.17 at the Gold Coast outlet.
The three companies operating the outlets have back-paid all underpaid employees they have been able to locate and provided the Fair Work Ombudsman with back-pay for other staff members. The FWO will hold the money in trust for the workers until it can locate them.
In addition to the penalties, Justice Flick also ordered the companies to display workplace notices detailing employee rights and entitlements and to commission an external audit of its compliance with workplace laws within 28 days and report the results to the Fair Work Ombudsman.