Fines imposed after failure to back-pay workers

The fines imposed against a NSW Central Coast restaurant after failing to back-pay nine employees send a message that employers must take action when issued with Compliance Notices, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Renee Martin – also known as Jackie Elcham – who owns Terrigal restaurant My Favourite Italian, has been fined $4415 in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney.

Ms Martin’s private company Jaycee Trading P/L, through which she operates the restaurant, has been fined a further $19,575.

The fines were imposed after the court found Ms Martin was responsible for her company failing to comply with two notices to produce employment records and a compliance notice requiring her to back-pay nine underpaid employees at My Favourite Italian a total of $12,178.

The court has also ordered Ms Martin’s company to back-pay the employees in full.

The notices were issued by Fair Work inspectors investigating underpayment complaints from wait and kitchen staff, including two juniors aged 16 and 19, who were underpaid wages, penalty rates and other entitlements in 2011 and 2012.

Acting Fair Work ombudsman Michael Campbell said it is the first time the agency has secured penalties in court for failing to comply with a compliance notice.

“Fair Work Inspectors are increasingly issuing compliance notices in cases where employers with contraventions refuse to co-operate and we will not tolerate employers not taking prompt action when issued with a compliance notice,” Mr Campbell said. “This case shows that if we take the matter to court, an employer can face a significant fine in addition to a court order to back-pay employees.

“Under the Fair Work Act, employers must comply with compliance notices issued by Fair Work inspectors, unless they have a reasonable excuse, or make a court application to challenge the notice.”

Judge Sylvia Emmett said compliance with statutory standards is important.

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