taiwanese food
A bowl of Royal Beef Noodles is displayed at Niou Ba Ba restaurant in Taipei, December 13, 2013. Reuters/Pichi Chuang

Kitchen Republik has been fined $107,550 for underpaying a foreign employee over a period of nine months from 2014 to 2015. The 22-year-old worker completed more than 770 hours of overtime with a paid flat hourly rates of $10 and $11. On average, she completed about 20 hours overtime a week. The court discovered that the worker was underpaid with a total of $33,170.

"Paying $10 or $11 per hour is an egregious departure from the mandated minimum rates of pay. [The employee] was a young and vulnerable worker, who the respondent grossly exploited. It is necessary for the court to signal its disapproval of such conduct in strong terms, both to the respondent and to the industry generally," judge Heather Riley said. The judge said that the underpayments of minimum wages were very significant and deliberate.

Food Republic Australia Pty Ltd, Kitchen Republik's parent company, admitted that it failed to provide payment in lieu of notice and untaken annual leave entitlements on the termination of the worker. It also admitted that it contravened the Restaurant Industry Award 2010. The award was workers' entitlement to receive a salary between $17.50 to $18 for ordinary hours. Workers were also entitled in penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and overtime work between $22.50 to $45. The worker did not receive any pay slips during the period she was employed.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said that it was completely unacceptable that an employer did not issue pay slips. "We treat cases involving underpayment of overseas workers particularly seriously because we are conscious that they can be vulnerable due to a lack of awareness of their entitlements, language barriers and a reluctance to complain," she said.

James said that workers should be paid with correct wages regardless of their visa status. The underpaid worker came to Australia on a working holiday visa. She worked as a kitchen hand from June to November 2014 and March to July 2015.

James said that the Fair Work Ombudsman provided free advice and resources for employers to understand their record-keeping obligations. The ombudsman has Fair Work Ombudsman’s Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) intended to assist business owners. It has downloadable templates for pay slips and time-and-wages sheets. It allowed business owners to compute pay rates that apply to their business.

The ombudsman handled 50 litigations between 2015 and 2016. There were 16 litigations about visa holder cases which involved 417 workers. The ombudsman recovered a total of $1.4 million for the 16 litigations.