Young people from overseas exploited by rogue sushi operator

by Ray Clancy on June 13, 2017

in Jobs in Australia

Young people in Australia on student and working holiday visas who spoke limited English were exploited by a sushi outlet which underpaid them and used false records to cover up what it was doing.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has highlighted the case to warn young people working in Australia while travelling and studying that there are firms who will exploit them and they should be treated like any other worker.

(robertprzybysz/Bigstock.com)

The director of Sushi Kuni in Brisbane and Ballina in New South Wales, Dai Il Kang, has been fined a total of $136,250 after the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane heard that five employees at the two outlets were underpaid by £29,166.

Four of the underpaid employees were Korean nationals and one was an Australian while four were aged 26 or under.

Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors discovered the underpayments at the Ballina outlet during a proactive audit. After receiving requests for assistance from workers, inspectors later discovered that there were underpayments of the minimum hourly rates, weekend penalty rates, overtime rates and casual loadings employees were entitled to under the Restaurant Industry Award.

During the investigation, Kang and his company also knowingly provided inspectors with false time and wages records that purported to show employees were receiving much higher rates than was actually the case.

Judge Michael Jarrett ordered the young people to be given the pay owed and described Kang’s actions as ‘deliberate and calculated’, adding that providing false records to inspectors was particularly serious and an attempt to mislead the Fair Work Ombudsman in the course of its investigation.

‘I want to make it clear that the lawful obligations to pay minimum wage rates, keep appropriate employment records and issue pay slips apply to all employers in Australia and they are not negotiable,’ said Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.

‘We treat cases involving underpayment of overseas workers particularly seriously because we are conscious that they can be vulnerable due to a lack of awareness of their entitlements, language barriers and a reluctance to complain. I understand there are cultural challenges and vastly different laws in other parts of the world, but it is incumbent on all businesses operating in Australia to understand and apply Australian laws,’ she pointed out.

‘To that end, the Fair Work Ombudsman is here to help with free advice and resources in a range of languages,’ she added.

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