Fair Work Ombudsman takes PappaRich franchise owner to court for allegedly underpaying 154 workers

Supplied: Fair Work Ombudsman Sarah Parker.
  • Manager-operator Loke Cheng Wong will face fines of up to $75,600 in the Federal Court for allegedly underpaying staff.
  • PappaRich employees were allegedly paid flat rates as low as $13 to $14.50 per hour. The current National Minimum Wage is $18.93 per hour.
  • Fair Work Ombudsman says franchise outlets are “on notice” to pay the minimum wage.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking legal action against a PappaRich restaurant owner alleging he underpaid 154 workers $74,000 across three Sydney outlets.

PappaRich manager-operator Loke Cheng Wong will face fines of up to $75,600 in the Federal Court for allegedly underpaying staff, a number of which were migrant workers on students or working holiday visas.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said enforcing workplace law compliance in the fast food, restaurant and catering sectors is a priority.

“Franchise outlets are on notice that they must pay all employees according to Australia’s lawful minimum pay rates,” said Parker.

“All workers in Australia have the same rights, regardless of citizenship or visa status, and we encourage anyone with concerns about their pay to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman. We have an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs where visa holders can seek our help without fear of their visa being cancelled,” Parker said.

Wong is manager-operator of the PappaRich franchise outlet at Macquarie Park, and was the manager-operator of PappaRich outlets in Chatswood and on Liverpool Street in Sydney’s CBD.

The Ombudsman is also taking action against PPR Ryde (NSW) Pty Ltd and Gateharvest Pty Ltd, two companies Mr Wong is a director and part-owner of.

It’s alleged that PappaRich employees were paid flat rates as low as $13 to $14.50 per hour between May 29 and July 2, 2017. The current National Minimum Wage is $18.93 per hour. This meant underpayment in terms of ordinary hourly rates, penalty rates, overtime rates and casual loadings under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

It’s alleged that 73 employees who primarily worked at PappaRich Macquarie Park were underpaid a total of $34,834. A further 42 employees at PappaRich Chatswood were allegedly underpaid $22,533, and 39 employees at the PappaRich Sydney CBD outlet were underpaid $16,633. Some of the employees involved worked at multiple stores.

All employees have been back-paid in full, except for two who have not yet been located, said the Ombudsman, which is also pushing for Wong and his companies to register on my fairwork.gov.au and complete workplace relations training.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on 3 May.

The Ombudsman has been contacted for further comment.

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