PappaRich manager fined for underpayment

Heather McNab

More than $300,000 in penalties has been handed down after the Fair Work Ombudsman found more than 150 employees of a popular Malaysian restaurant chain in Sydney had been underpaid $74,000.

A fine of $34,425 has been imposed by the Federal Circuit Court against Loke Cheng Wong, manager-operator of the Malaysian hawker food chain PappaRich franchise outlet in Macquarie Park and former manager-operator of outlets in Chatswood and the Sydney CBD.

Between May and July in 2017 employees were paid flat rates as low as $13 to $14.50 an hour, leading to underpayment of ordinary hourly rates, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, overtime rates and casual loadings, the ombudsman said in a statement on Thursday.

Record-keeping and pay-slip provision was also deemed lax.

A number of the affected employees were migrant workers on working holiday and student visas.

Mr Wong is also a director and part-owner of PPR Ryde (NSW) Pty Ltd and Gateharvest Pty Ltd. These companies have been fined $141,751 and $131,626 respectively for their involvement in the underpayments.

Underpayments to the employees, some of whom were employed at more than one of the three stores, have been fully amended.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the penalty should serve as a warning to employers "who choose to pay migrant workers unlawfully low flat rates rather than the applicable minimum award".

"All employees have the same rights under Australia's workplace laws, regardless of visa status, and any migrant workers with concerns about their pay should contact us," Ms Parker said in a statement.