The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operator of three bubble tea outlets in the Adelaide CBD for allegedly underpaying staff more than $186,000.
Facing court is Yuxuan Group Pty Ltd, which operates ‘Fun Tea’ outlets on Gouger Street, York Street and in Rundle Mall.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Yuxuan Group underpaid 20 fast food employees who worked across the three outlets a total of $186,895 and breached record-keeping and pay slip laws.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also taking legal action against former Yuxuan Group director Yang Su, alleging she was involved in the record-keeping and pay slip breaches.
Several of the allegedly underpaid workers were visa holders, including international students. Four were juniors, aged under 21.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said matters that involve the alleged underpayment of visa holders are serious, as they may be vulnerable to workplace exploitation.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman will hold business operators to account when we encounter allegations that involve vulnerable workers. All workers have the same rights in Australia regardless of nationality or visa status,” Ms Parker said.
“Employers also need to be aware that compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector continues to be a priority for the FWO. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”
Fair Work Inspectors investigated following public allegations about compliance issues at Fun Tea.
It is alleged inspectors found that the 20 workers had been paid flat rates of $10 to $18 per hour, which were insufficient to meet their entitlements under the Fast Food Award.
Workers were allegedly underpaid minimum wage rates, penalty rates for evenings, weekends, public holidays and overtime work and superannuation. The Fair Work Ombudsman also alleges that the workers were not provided meal breaks or the minimum engagement requirements on occasions.
It is alleged the underpayments occurred across a two-week period in August 2019 and a nine-month period between April 2020 and February 2021.
The FWO is seeking penalties. Yuxuan Group Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $63,000 to $66,600 per breach and Ms Su faces penalties of up to $12,600 to $13,320 per breach.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a court order requiring the company to back-pay the 20 workers in full. It is alleged that the workers have been only partially back-paid to date.
A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court on 9 November 2021.