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59 % of Canberra restaurants screwing their staff?

By johnboy 5 June 2013 37

No we’re not talking about the fraught relationships of restauranteurs and wait staff.

Rather the ABC has a piece on findings by the Fair Work Ombudsman:

The Fair Work Ombudsman audited 180 restaurants across Canberra between November 2011 and March this year.

It found 105 businesses, or 59 per cent, were in breach.

Of those in breach, nearly half were not paying employees the correct wages, a third had poor record-keeping, and the remainder had both.

An investigation into one business is continuing.

After the audit, almost $280,000 was repaid to 482 workers.

They’re doing a follow up audit in August.

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37 Responses to
59 % of Canberra restaurants screwing their staff?
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dungfungus 11:29 am 07 Jun 13

Jim Jones said :

dungfungus said :

DEY DERK ER JERRRBS!!!

Indeed I did say that.

Jim Jones 8:41 am 07 Jun 13

dungfungus said :

DEY DERK ER JERRRBS!!!

BimboGeek 8:38 am 07 Jun 13

A lot of armchair experts here.

I’m a barista. I can’t speak to every type of working condition but I can tell you that from what I have seen…

Some business owners are nicer than others but even the lovely ones struggle to have much feeling for them casuals as they have hired hundreds, maybe thousands, and forgotten many.
Every restaurant thinks it has money problems. And none of them have business experience. I’m unique in having been the office/business manager and knowing how to get processes documented and organised.
Awards… There appear to be dozens. When you go on the Pay Check website to see what your pay should be, it asks you which one applies to you. Restaurant? Hospitality general? Club? Grade 1, 2 or 3? Why the complexity and confusion? Probably more than a few of those not trained in business people are paying their staff the wrong award.
Cash rates. I’ve seen it all. Businesses that forget to ask for tax forms then someone handsyou a wad of cash. An envelope that specifies your correct pay minus tax but again, no super or tax details are ever supplied. Working in a different industry I even had a boss who appreared to be witholding PAYG but the tax and super never appeared or were only paid sometimes. It’s generally something uphill of your after-tax pay so the staff aren’t being screwed but the tax man might be unimpressed. This option is very popular with staff where it’s their second job or they are on some government benefit. Also of use to student and working holiday visas who have work restrictions. I’m more concerned about getting my super paid into.
Penalty rates are the main sticking point. From the restaurant owner point of view you already have to put on extra staff for weekends. Paying time and a half may increase your payroll by $500 for the shift so assuming a 20% profit rate you’d have to turn over an extra $2500. Some businesses are this healthy and others are not. Many bosses are willing to pay more to get good staff on busy shifts but as waiters we also expect to work when the work is available. We chose this industry because we want to work nights and weekends. Some waiters are school kids who absolutely must work Sundays. They will happily accept base rates because to them Sunday isn’t a penalty at all.

But if you are worried that your waitress or barista is underpaid, please leave a generous tip. Personal tips for great service are a great way to motivate and often go into the shared pool so the dishy, chef and bartender get a share for their more invisible contribution to your great experience. For me it will go to the “owning my own coffee/cocktail bar” fund.

dungfungus 8:09 pm 06 Jun 13

gungsuperstar said :

dungfungus said :

eyeLikeCarrots said :

Tetranitrate said :

neanderthalsis said :

throw in international students with limited work rights

This is the major factor.
International students basically serve as slave-labor for the hospitality industry – it’s extremely commonplace for cafes, restaurants and the like to ‘hire’ them cash in hand for $10/hour or less.
It’s absolutely rampant in all Australian capital cities.

I wold have thought that international students on the relevent, valid visa with a right to work would be entitled to the same legal rights as any australian citizen ?

Everyone knows that an Australian Student Visa is just another way to get into Australia for work – it rarely has anything to do with education. And they do work for $5.00 per hour as you point out. The owners of the restaurants are usually from the same country as the workers.
It’s a racket not unlike the identured by force workers who were sent to work in the Australian goldfields by Chinese warlords 150 years ago.

Right.

I’m now completely convinced that you’re just trolling, playing a hilarious parody of a conservative.

Yep. Education, our country’s second biggest export last time I checked, is merely a front for students from Asia to spend THOUSANDS of dollars, up front, on their education, so they can work crap hours and be ripped off while doing so!

I can’t even figure out where this lies in your hall of shame. Most students from Asia (where most of our foreign students come from) actually take their degree back home with them. They will NEVER take as much money from this country as what they spend here on their education.

Last time I checked there were about 400,000 people loose in Australia that had come here on student visas that had now expired. Not every student that comes to Australia forks out thousands of dollars either. They have to work for low rates as they can’t get Centrelink support. Their employers are hiring them illegally but hey, who cares?
Lots of “students” now coming from Western Europe where youth unemployment is about 60%.

Diggety 6:40 pm 06 Jun 13

dungfungus said :

Diggety said :

Workers should be equally responsible for awareness of wage rates. If the worker agreed to work for an amount, then that should be the end of it.

Well, that is how the deal used to work until the nannies and the unions decided otherwise. Maybe some of Abbott’s 12,000 sacked public servants will be prepared to work for less?

I’d say a fair chunk of those 12,000 would need to be taught how to work, instead being trained on how to get a good nights sleep.

dungfungus 5:56 pm 06 Jun 13

Diggety said :

Workers should be equally responsible for awareness of wage rates. If the worker agreed to work for an amount, then that should be the end of it.

Well, that is how the deal used to work until the nannies and the unions decided otherwise. Maybe some of Abbott’s 12,000 sacked public servants will be prepared to work for less?

gungsuperstar 5:53 pm 06 Jun 13

dungfungus said :

eyeLikeCarrots said :

Tetranitrate said :

neanderthalsis said :

throw in international students with limited work rights

This is the major factor.
International students basically serve as slave-labor for the hospitality industry – it’s extremely commonplace for cafes, restaurants and the like to ‘hire’ them cash in hand for $10/hour or less.
It’s absolutely rampant in all Australian capital cities.

I wold have thought that international students on the relevent, valid visa with a right to work would be entitled to the same legal rights as any australian citizen ?

Everyone knows that an Australian Student Visa is just another way to get into Australia for work – it rarely has anything to do with education. And they do work for $5.00 per hour as you point out. The owners of the restaurants are usually from the same country as the workers.
It’s a racket not unlike the identured by force workers who were sent to work in the Australian goldfields by Chinese warlords 150 years ago.

Right.

I’m now completely convinced that you’re just trolling, playing a hilarious parody of a conservative.

Yep. Education, our country’s second biggest export last time I checked, is merely a front for students from Asia to spend THOUSANDS of dollars, up front, on their education, so they can work crap hours and be ripped off while doing so!

I can’t even figure out where this lies in your hall of shame. Most students from Asia (where most of our foreign students come from) actually take their degree back home with them. They will NEVER take as much money from this country as what they spend here on their education.

Diggety 4:44 pm 06 Jun 13

Workers should be equally responsible for awareness of wage rates. If the worker agreed to work for an amount, then that should be the end of it.

dungfungus 3:43 pm 06 Jun 13

eyeLikeCarrots said :

dungfungus said :

eyeLikeCarrots said :

Tetranitrate said :

neanderthalsis said :

throw in international students with limited work rights

This is the major factor.
International students basically serve as slave-labor for the hospitality industry – it’s extremely commonplace for cafes, restaurants and the like to ‘hire’ them cash in hand for $10/hour or less.
It’s absolutely rampant in all Australian capital cities.

I wold have thought that international students on the relevent, valid visa with a right to work would be entitled to the same legal rights as any australian citizen ?

Everyone knows that an Australian Student Visa is just another way to get into Australia for work – it rarely has anything to do with education. And they do work for $5.00 per hour as you point out. The owners of the restaurants are usually from the same country as the workers.
It’s a racket not unlike the identured by force workers who were sent to work in the Australian goldfields by Chinese warlords 150 years ago.

I wasn’t sure about how correct your were on the early Chinese gold fieldworkers but you do appear to be correct:

These Chinese were nearly all men (38,337 men and only eleven women!) and most were under contract to Chinese and foreign businessmen. In exchange for their passage money, they worked on the goldfields until their debt was paid off.

http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-gold-rush

+1 Internet Credit for knowing your history.

Well, thank you for checking up. I rarely use the internet to check things I learnt at school many years ago and I didn’t in this case either. I suppose “appearing to be correct” is better than being told I talk through my fundamental orifice as most people on this blog say.

Henry82 2:48 pm 06 Jun 13

pink little birdie said :

and in 99% of cases it’s a genuine mistake.

Have you ever met someone who would admit to underpaying staff on purpose (to inspectors when audited)?

I doubt it.

Probably find most were ‘cash in hand workers’. As soon as they found out there was an inspection, they fudged the books half-heartedly to get through the audit. I’m sure if they re-audited the same places in 2 years time, they’d make exactly the same “mistakes”

neanderthalsis said :

best be getting on with filling in your IWW membership application.

I’d say reading your contract, then checking online at existing laws is a cheaper alternative.

Tetranitrate 1:23 pm 06 Jun 13

neanderthalsis said :

International students are subject to the same workplace laws as the rest of us.

I never claimed otherwise. Why do you keep repeating this as though you’re correcting some kind of misconception? nobody has claimed that international students are not subject to the same workplace laws as everybody else.

neanderthalsis said :

The same applies to the international students themselves. International students, depending on their visa, can only work for a maximum of 40 hrs a fortnight; I have seen more than a few that take on a job for those 40 hrs, but then take on another job without informing either employer. In that case, both employers are acting illegally as they are in breach of the work rights of that visa class.

Sure, what’s your point?
I note that you’re now conceding that it is commonplace for the law to be ignored. (not that the OP doesn’t make that clear already)

neanderthalsis said :

They are indeed. But there are those who wish to perpetuate the whole “them foreigners what come over here and take our jobs and work for $2 a day and rice” myth. Unfortunately one of them happens to be the federal Immigration Minister.

neanderthalsis said :

best be getting on with filling in your IWW membership application.

Seriously? So expecting that minimum wages, penalty rates, casual loadings and other basic protections and entitlements are adhered to, and/or being peeved when it turns out that they are being rampantly and blatantly ignored makes a person a Nazi-Communist?

eyeLikeCarrots 12:27 pm 06 Jun 13

dungfungus said :

eyeLikeCarrots said :

Tetranitrate said :

neanderthalsis said :

throw in international students with limited work rights

This is the major factor.
International students basically serve as slave-labor for the hospitality industry – it’s extremely commonplace for cafes, restaurants and the like to ‘hire’ them cash in hand for $10/hour or less.
It’s absolutely rampant in all Australian capital cities.

I wold have thought that international students on the relevent, valid visa with a right to work would be entitled to the same legal rights as any australian citizen ?

Everyone knows that an Australian Student Visa is just another way to get into Australia for work – it rarely has anything to do with education. And they do work for $5.00 per hour as you point out. The owners of the restaurants are usually from the same country as the workers.
It’s a racket not unlike the identured by force workers who were sent to work in the Australian goldfields by Chinese warlords 150 years ago.

I wasn’t sure about how correct your were on the early Chinese gold fieldworkers but you do appear to be correct:

These Chinese were nearly all men (38,337 men and only eleven women!) and most were under contract to Chinese and foreign businessmen. In exchange for their passage money, they worked on the goldfields until their debt was paid off.

http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-gold-rush

+1 Internet Credit for knowing your history.

neanderthalsis 11:52 am 06 Jun 13

Tetranitrate said :

neanderthalsis said :

They are indeed. But there are those who wish to perpetuate the whole “them foreigners what come over here and take our jobs and work for $2 a day and rice” myth. Unfortunately one of them happens to be the federal Immigration Minister.

Oh please. Go ask international students working at the various cafes around civic what they’re being paid. If you really want I can suggest a couple of places.

International students are subject to the same workplace laws as the rest of us. While there are some employers who willingly and knowingly break the rules, they are in the minority.

The same applies to the international students themselves. International students, depending on their visa, can only work for a maximum of 40 hrs a fortnight; I have seen more than a few that take on a job for those 40 hrs, but then take on another job without informing either employer. In that case, both employers are acting illegally as they are in breach of the work rights of that visa class.

If you have evidence of illegal working arrangements, please feel free to pass that information on to the FWO. If not, best be getting on with filling in your IWW membership application.

Tetranitrate 11:25 am 06 Jun 13

dungfungus said :

Tetranitrate said :

neanderthalsis said :

throw in international students with limited work rights

This is the major factor.
International students basically serve as slave-labor for the hospitality industry – it’s extremely commonplace for cafes, restaurants and the like to ‘hire’ them cash in hand for $10/hour or less.
It’s absolutely rampant in all Australian capital cities.

So, are you going to black ban every cafe and restaurant in the country if they can’t produce the wages book with the correct amounts for you to peruse with the menu? If I were you, I would get used to packing your lunch at home from now on as a contingency plan.

What exactly is it that you’re trying to say here?
That those who think minimum wage laws and the like should be universally enforced should go out of their way at every moment in their lives to do it themselves? something else equally stupid?

Tetranitrate 11:20 am 06 Jun 13

neanderthalsis said :

They are indeed. But there are those who wish to perpetuate the whole “them foreigners what come over here and take our jobs and work for $2 a day and rice” myth. Unfortunately one of them happens to be the federal Immigration Minister.

Oh please. Go ask international students working at the various cafes around civic what they’re being paid. If you really want I can suggest a couple of places.

Tetranitrate 11:15 am 06 Jun 13

eyeLikeCarrots said :

Tetranitrate said :

neanderthalsis said :

throw in international students with limited work rights

This is the major factor.
International students basically serve as slave-labor for the hospitality industry – it’s extremely commonplace for cafes, restaurants and the like to ‘hire’ them cash in hand for $10/hour or less.
It’s absolutely rampant in all Australian capital cities.

I wold have thought that international students on the relevent, valid visa with a right to work would be entitled to the same legal rights as any australian citizen ?

As far as minimum wages, ect go – of course. Do they know these rights? generally not.
Do they have any bargaining power at all? hell no.
Are they rampantly exploited by business owners, largely of their own nationality? hell yes.

Also they’re technically meant to be limited to 40 hours/fortnight while their course is in session.
http://www.immi.gov.au/students/students/working_while_studying/
http://www.immi.gov.au/students/_pdf/permission-to-work-students.pdf

pink little birdie 9:29 am 06 Jun 13

and in 99% of cases it’s a genuine mistake. what’s the bet most places when they found they were underpaying staff went “whoops and sorry about that – here is your pay”
I think you would find most places submitted their time and wage records willingly as they though “I’m paying staff correctly so the govt can look through these”

Having been on both sides of the fence: Most people submit their records willingly and if an employee checks the relevant awards and notices that they are underpaid and takes it too their boss the boss is usually willing to fix it without it being escalated.

Boss’s aren’t horrible people trying to take advantage of their staff in most cases

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