Sydney café operator penalised for not paying Nepali international student

The workers were back-paid in full only after the FWO commenced legal action.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a $5,500 penalty in court against the operator of a café in southern Sydney.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed the penalty against The Lodge MGL Pty Ltd, which trades as Write Coffee Reserve at the Menai Marketplace Shopping Centre, in Menai.

The penalty was imposed in response to The Lodge MGL Pty Ltd failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to calculate and back-pay entitlements to three workers it had employed for various periods between December 2020 and April 2021.

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The FWO investigated after receiving requests for assistance from the affected workers.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face penalties in court.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Ms Hannah said.

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

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

A Fair Work inspector issued the Compliance Notice to The Lodge MGL Pty Ltd in August 2021 after forming a belief that the three workers were not paid any wages for the work they had performed.

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The workers included a 17-year-old food and beverage attendant who performed about two weeks’ work, a Nepali kitchen attendant on a student visa who performed about six weeks’ work, and an adult food and beverage attendant who performed just over two months’ work.

The workers were back-paid in full only after the FWO commenced legal action.

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