Sydney restaurant in court for not paying annual leave entitlements to two visa-holder chefs

The restaurant faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and operator faces a penalty of up to $6,660.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the former operators of a restaurant in north-west Sydney.

Facing court are Annangrove Road Pty Ltd, which operated ‘EST by Fig and Co’ in Kenthurst before it closed, and the company’s sole director Alfredo Gualterio.

The regulator investigated after receiving requests for assistance from two workers who were employed at the restaurant as full-time chefs for various periods between September 2020 and June 2021.

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Both workers were visa holders, including one aged 23 to 24 at the time of employment.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Annangrove Road in July 2022 after forming a belief the workers were not paid accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements when their employment ended, owed under the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Annangrove Road Pty Ltd, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the workers’ entitlements. It is alleged Mr Gualterio was involved in the contravention.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah 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 protecting visa holders and young workers are priorities for the FWO,” Ms Hannah said.

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

The FWO is seeking penalties for the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice. Annangrove Road Pty Ltd faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Gualterio faces a penalty of up to $6,660.

The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to pay compensation for the amount of the alleged underpayments, plus interest.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Sydney on 14 August 2023.

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