The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a total of $69,523.20 in penalties against the husband-and-wife operators of a Vietnamese restaurant in Hobart for breaches including underpaying the wife’s brother-in-law more than $150,000.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $45,532.80 penalty against Ms Xuan A Tran and a $23,990.40 penalty against her husband Mr Quang Manh Dong, who operate ‘Vina Yummy Kitchen’ as a partnership in Sandy Bay, Hobart.
The penalties were imposed after the couple admitted underpaying two employees – Ms Xuan Tran’s sister and her sister’s husband, both Vietnamese nationals – a total of $175,000 between 2015 and 2019.
This included Ms Xuan Tran’s sister being underpaid $18,683.69 and the sister’s husband being underpaid $156,316.31.
They were underpaid minimum rates for ordinary hours, public holiday and overtime rates and leave entitlements, under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 and the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards.
Ms Xuan Tran also provided Fair Work inspectors with false records during their investigation, while both she and Mr Dong also breached record-keeping and pay slip laws.
Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the case serves to highlight that all workers in Australia have the same rights, regardless of nationality or visa status.
“All employers in Australia need to pay their employees in line with Australia’s workplace laws – or they risk facing significant consequences,” Ms Booth said.
“Employers also need to be aware that taking action to protect vulnerable workers, including visa holders, and improve compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector are among our top priorities.
“Any employee with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice and assistance.”
Ms Xuan Tran and Mr Dong assisted the two affected workers to move to Australia from Vietnam and acted as visa sponsors for Ms Xuan Tran’s sister.
Fair Work Inspectors investigated after the workers lodged requests for assistance.
Ms Xuan Tran and Mr Dong back-paid the workers in full only after the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action.
Judge Sandra Taglieri found that there was a need to impose penalties to deter other employers from similar conduct, “especially given the high-risk nature of contraventions of the Awards and Act relating to minimum standards in the cafes, restaurants and takeaway foods industry.”
In addition to the penalties, Judge Taglieri ordered Ms Xuan Tran and Mr Dong to complete online learning courses for employers and commission training on workplace relations laws.
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