Burger outlet in court for alleged underpayment to commercial cookery apprentice

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operator of a burger outlet in Darwin.

Facing court is Territory Tough Pty Ltd, which operates a burger outlet trading as “Good Thanks” in Darwin’s CBD.

The regulator investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a young worker who was employed at the restaurant as a full-time chef between May 2019 and June 2022.

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The worker, aged between 17 and 20 at the time, was engaged in a commercial cookery apprenticeship.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Territory Tough in October 2022 after forming a belief the company had not paid the worker wages for time spent attending registered training as part of his apprenticeship, as required under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 and the Restaurant Industry Award 2020.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Territory Tough, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.”

“Employers should also be aware that taking action to improve compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector and protect vulnerable employees, such as young workers, are priorities for the FWO.”

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“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” Ms Parker said.

The FWO is seeking penalties in court for the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice. Territory Tough faces a penalty of up to $33,300.

The regulator is also seeking an order for Territory Tough to rectify the alleged underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Darwin on 24 July 2023.