Ombudsman targets food businesses in WA, SA and NT

Restaurants and takeaway food outlets in WA, South Australia and the Northern Territory could be paid a visit by the Fair Work Ombudsman, who will be checking the books of up to 120 cafés.  


It’s been revealed Fair Work inspectors will audit 50 employers in Adelaide’s Gouger and Rundle streets and at North Adelaide, although there’s no say on when this will happen.  


In 2010, as part of a local fast food campaign, the Ombudsman recovered a total of $13,400 for 53 South Australian workers.


A further 50 employers will be audited in the Perth CBD and Perth’s southern suburbs, and an additional 20 businesses located in food courts throughout Darwin.


Inspectors will check that workers are being paid their full entitlements, including minimum pay rates and penalty rates.  


The audits also aim to ensure employers are adhering to minimum engagement periods, and complying with record-keeping and pay slip obligations.  


The news comes after it was revealed the Ombudsman has taken action in the Federal Court to wind up a Melbourne café that underpaid its staff and then failed to pay the Ombudsman’s fines.  


The Ombudsman wants to enforce back-payment and penalty orders made against Giuseppe De Simone – who owns Cape Café in Melbourne and his private company Compumark Pty Ltd.


The court found two casual kitchen hands were underpaid $7,061 and $1,575 in wages and superannuation.


Magistrate Kate Hawkins fined De Simone $19,800 and Compumark $99,000, and ordered back-pay for the workers.


However, the workers involved have still not been back-paid, and Compumark and De Simone have not paid the penalties imposed on them.


According to acting Fair Work Ombudsman Bill Loizides, the hospitality sector continues to attract a high level of complaints and employs a large number of vulnerable workers.


“This campaign is an opportunity for employers in the hospitality industry to ensure they understand their obligations… and are complying with them,” Loizides said in a statement.


The campaign aims to increase awareness of workplace laws, including Modern Awards and the National Employment Standards.


“The Fair Work Ombudsman is committed to making it easier to comply with workplace laws by providing free education, assistance and advice,” Loizides said.


“If inspectors find minor or inadvertent contraventions, our preferred approach is to educate the employer and assist them to voluntarily rectify the issue.”


“The campaign will also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws because our auditing… will help to ensure businesses are competing on a level playing field.”


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