22 January 2021

Former Canberra Italian restaurant operator allegedly underpaid chefs

| Dominic Giannini
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Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said voluntary compliance was attempted on several occasions before legal proceedings commenced. Photo: Fair Work.

The former operator of the La Pasteria Italian restaurant in Greenway is facing court for allegedly paying two chefs less than the minimum wage and not paying the correct level of superannuation.

GK Food Bars and Restaurants Pty Ltd has been taken to court by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and is facing a maximum fine of $31,500.

Company director George Varvaritis is also subject to legal proceedings by the FWO and faces a $6,300 fine.

The penalties would be on top of repaying the workers, plus superannuation and interest if the regulator is successful in court.

The restaurant is no longer operating.

One casual cook who worked at the restaurant between May and July 2019 was allegedly paid below the minimum casual rate and has superannuation owed.

The operator also allegedly underpaid the head chef, who worked at the restaurant between April and August in 2019, and did not pay accrued annual leave entitlements at the end of his employment.

The FWO is alleging that the company then did not comply with a notice issued by the Ombudsman which required it to backpay the workers, and did not have a reasonable excuse not to do so.

Mr Varvaritis is alleged to have been involved in the company’s non-compliance with the notice.

The notice was issued in January 2020.

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Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said voluntary compliance was attempted on several occasions before legal proceedings commenced.

“Under the Fair Work Act, Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors if they form a belief that an employer has breached workplace laws,” Ms Parker said.

“Where employers do not comply with our requests, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order the business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.”

The case will come before the Federal Circuit Court in Canberra on Wednesday (27 January).

Employers and employees can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace.

A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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It’s a damning indictment on Canberran mentality that an article like this goes without any comments.

It’s a sad reality that many business owners are completely immoral, and should go untarnished, even after being caught.

Peter Curtis2:21 pm 23 Jan 21

Not to sure what a “Canberra mentality” would be but as long as we surrender the principle of solidarity for the belief that the boss class and their serving institutions like (un)fair-work to administer wage ‘theft’ and ‘fairness’ we do not have a leg to stand on. Businesses and creating surplus value from which they extract profit is and must be based on exploitation whether you are paid the agreed amount. That said union members are better paid because, despit all the anti-union laws, they are collectively organised. There is no such thing as a fair days pay.

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