Sushi operators rolled for $125k by Fair Work

TWO Ipswich sushi stores have been ordered to pay more than $125,000 for failing to keep time and wage records, as well as failing to issue pay slips.

The Federal Circuit Court ordered A & K Property Services Pty Ltd, operator of two 'Sushi 79' fast food outlets at Brassall, in Ipswich, and Currimundi, on the Sunshine Coast, to pay $108,000 after a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation.

Fair Work Inspectors visited the Sushi 79 outlets as part of an audit activity and found that A & K Property Services had failed to keep proper time and wages records and failed to issue any pay slips to employees.


Sushi 79 has opened at Brassall, pictured is owner Hans Kim and chef David Lee (centre) with staff at their new restaurant. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times
Sushi 79 Brassall's owner Hans Kim and chef David Lee (centre) with staff when their restaurant opened. Inga Williams

The company underpaid nine visa holders a total of $19,467 in wages and $7,416 in superannuation between October and December 2017.

The workers were all South Korean nationals, aged in their 20s and early 30s, in Australia on working holiday, student and vocational education visas.

The workers were underpaid minimum ordinary hourly rates, weekend penalty rates and overtime rates owed under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010.

Annual leave and personal leave entitlements were also not accrued.

Director Yong Sin Kim has also been ordered to pay penalties of $10,600, with fellow directors Hyun Jun Kang and Jungpyo Lee each penalised $3,550.


Sushi 79 has opened at Brassall, pictured is owner Hans Kim and chef David Lee. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times
Sushi 79, Brassall, pictured is owner Hans Kim and chef David Lee when the store opened. Inga Williams

The three directors were involved in leave breaches, with Mr Kim also involved in the record-keeping and pay slip breaches. All wages and superannuation has been back-paid.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the case highlighted consequences of poor record-keeping.

"This is the first decision in a matter filed by the Fair Work Ombudsman under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws, which increased penalties for record-keeping and pay slip breaches. Accurate and timely record-keeping is a fundamental employment obligation and businesses are on notice to comply," she said.

"Workers have a right to rely on pay slips to understand their workplace entitlements, particularly visa holders who may be vulnerable due to language or cultural barriers. We will continue to take court action to protect vulnerable workers and anyone with concerns should contact us."

Judge Michael Jarrett said the record-keeping breaches were "particularly serious".

"When an employer does not make and keep employment records, an effective safety net for employees is difficult to maintain and results in those employees being more vulnerable to exploitation," Judge Jarrett said.

Judge Jarrett said the individual underpayments, which ranged from $214 to $4,857, amounted to between 7.69 per cent and 43.32 per cent of the total wages the employees were owed.

"I am satisfied that the respondents' conduct, whilst not deliberate, was plainly grossly reckless," he said.

"There is no evidence that they made any enquiries whatsoever about the correct entitlements for their employees at any point after they took over from the previous business owner."

The respondents' admissions of liability meant that the FWO did not have to rely on the reverse onus of proof laws for underpayments where inadequate records are kept or pay slips not issued.

The QT has reached out to the operators for comment.