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Sydney café in court over staff pay shortfall

Three workers were allegedly underpaid minimum wage, casual loading, and public holiday entitlements.

7 June 2022 

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced legal action against the operator of a café in Southern Sydney.

Facing court is The Lodge MGL Pty Ltd, which trades as Write Coffee Reserve at the Menai Marketplace Shopping Centre, in Menai.

The regulator began an investigation after receiving requests for assistance from three workers.

A Fair Work inspector issued a 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 various periods of work they performed at Write Coffee Reserve between December 2020 and April 2021.

“The workers included a 17-year-old food and beverage attendant who performed about two weeks’ work, a Nepalese 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 FWO said.

“The inspector believed the workers were entitled to be paid the minimum wage, casual loading, and public holiday penalties under the Restaurant Industry Award 2020 for work they had performed.”

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The FWO alleges The Lodge MGL Pty Ltd, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the compliance notice, which required the calculation and back-payment of the workers’ outstanding 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,” Ms Parker said.

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

The FWO is seeking a penalty against the company for allegedly failing to comply with the compliance notice. The maximum possible penalty is $33,300.

The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to comply with the Compliance Notice, including rectifying any underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Sydney on 21 June 2022. 

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