TWO Chinese workers at a take-away noodle bar in Orange were underpaid more than $100,000 in less than three years, the Fair Work Ombudsman has alleged.
Documents filed in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney claim the pair, 457 Visa holders, were short-changed a total of $106,081 when they worked at the Summer Street shop.
They were among six Chinese employees underpaid a total of $642,311 by WXZ Enterprises Pty Ltd at four of its stores in NSW and Queensland between July, 2010 and March, 2013, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleges.
The female and male cooks in Orange were allegedly underpaid $88,034 and $18,047 respectively.
Court papers also allege:
A male cook at a shop in Macquarie Street, Dubbo, was allegedly underpaid $189,225, a male supervisor and a female cook at a noodle bar in William Street, Bathurst, were underpaid $129,314 and $125,605 respectively, and a female cook at a noodle bar in Bundaberg was underpaid $92,086.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has started legal proceedings against WXZ Enterprises and NSW men Xin Tai Xu and Xin Chun Xu, who were allegedly involved in managing the company’s operations and underpaying the workers.
The agency is seeking penalties and a court order for back-payment of the money allegedly owed to the employees.
Court documents alleged WXZ Enterprises paid the six a flat weekly wage as low as $530, despite them generally working up to seven days a week and often more than 60 hours a week.
It is alleged the workers were underpaid their minimum hourly rates, penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and overtime work and annual and personal/carer’s leave entitlements.
Company record-keeping and pay slip contraventions are also alleged.
Inspectors discovered the alleged underpayments when they investigated complaints lodged by employees.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the significant amounts of money involved for vulnerable, foreign workers and a failure by the employer to rectify the alleged underpayments were significant factors in the Agency’s decision to take legal action.
WXZ Enterprises faces penalties of up to $51,000 per contravention and Xin Tai Xu and Xin Chun Xu each face penalties up to $10,200 per contravention.