The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of the Bakers Boutique & Patisserie retail bakery outlets.
Facing Court is Gothic Downs Pty Ltd, which operates Bakers Boutique & Patisserie outlets in various shopping centres in Melbourne, and the company’s sole director Giuseppe Conforto.
Fair Work Inspectors commenced an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from two former employees who worked at Bakers Boutique & Patisserie outlets at Meadow Heights and Caroline Springs from 2016 to 2018. One of the employees was a visa holder from India.
A Fair Work inspector issued two Compliance Notices after forming a belief that Gothic Downs Pty Ltd had underpaid the employees their minimum wages, early morning shift rates, weekend and public holiday penalty rates and overtime rates under the General Retail Industry Award 2010 and leave entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009.
The regulator alleges that the company, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notices. The notices required the employer to calculate and back-pay the outstanding wages and entitlements owing to the employees, including the applicable superannuation.
Mr Conforto was allegedly involved in the failure to comply with the Compliance Notices.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that the regulator will enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes continuing to take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
“Under the Fair Work Act, Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors if they form a belief that an employer has breached workplace laws,” Ms Parker said.
“Where employers do not comply with our requests, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order the business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.”
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Gothic Downs Pty Ltd committed two contraventions of the Fair Work Act. The company faces penalties of up to $31,500 per contravention from the Court, while Mr Conforto faces penalties of up to $6,300 per contravention for his alleged involvement.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a Court Order requiring Gothic Downs to comply with the Compliance Notices, which includes rectifying underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.
A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 6 August 2020.