The Federal Circuit Court has found that a Crust Gourmet Pizza Store in Hobart underpaid four international employees by almost $10,000 over a 7-month period in 2016 (Fair Work Ombudsman v Qha Foods Pty Ltd & Ors [2019] FCCA 3120).

The directors of QHA Foods Pty Ltd, who operated the pizza business, admitted to treating the four employees differently to the store’s Australian employees.

It was heard that the employer:

  • paid the international employees a $12 flat rate plus $1 per pizza delivery, despite understanding they were entitled to higher, award rates;
  • paid their Australian employees higher base rates, in addition to penalty rates and a cents-per-kilometre rate for deliveries;
  • required the international employees to travel longer distances to make deliveries as compared to their Australian colleagues; and
  • only provided their Australian employees with payslips and transferred their pay via bank transfer.

Despite their preferential treatment, the Court found the Australian employees were also underpaid by approximately $6,000 due to the employer’s incorrect interpretation of the Fast Food Industry Award 2010.

Further breaches included failing to keep record of their international employees’ hours of work and providing Fair Work Ombudsman with altered timesheets.

Judge Barbara Baker ordered the employer pay $80,000 in penalties, and the directors $12,000 each. Judge Baker also directed the company organise IR training for managerial employees.

The case highlights an increasing tendency of the courts to compel employers to seek professional IR help.

How EI Legal can help

EI Legal is a firm of specialist employment lawyers. We regularly advise clients on compliance issues and undertake wage audits to help employers ensure they are paying staff correctly.

If you require assistance in this area please contact one of our lawyers today.