FWO takes former bistro operators to court

The former bistro operators allegedly underpaid minimum wages for several years.

2 June 2022 

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced legal action against the former operators of a bistro restaurant business on NSW’s Central Coast.

Facing court are Tolu Investors Pty Ltd, which operated Spinnakers Brasserie at Point Frederick in Gosford until last year, and director Grant Christopher Goldsmith.

The regulator began an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from a former worker who had been engaged as a full-time cook. The worker, originally from Pakistan, speaks Urdu as a first language.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a compliance notice to Tolu Investors in November 2021, after forming a belief that the worker had been underpaid entitlements owed under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010, the Restaurant Industry Award 2020 and the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards.

The inspector formed a belief the employee, working between March 2018 and June 2021, had been underpaid minimum wages and was also not paid for 20 hours of personal leave when unfit for work because of an injury.

The FWO alleges Tolu Investors, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the compliance notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the employee’s entitlements. 

It is alleged Mr Goldsmith, who was the business’ executive chef at the time, was involved in the contravention.

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Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully 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,” Mr Scully said.

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

Tolu Investors has made a partial back-payment in relation to the personal leave entitlements.

The FWO is seeking penalties against the company and Mr Goldsmith for allegedly failing to comply with the compliance notice. 

The maximum penalty for a company for failing to comply with a notice is $33,300 and the maximum penalty for an individual is $6,660.

The regulator is also seeking an order for Tolu Investors to comply with the compliance notice, which includes rectifying any underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Parramatta on 3 June 2022. 

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