Sushi operator allegedly underpaid Canberra workers

Legal action has been taken against Sushi Bay in Belconnen. Photo: Facebook.

A CHAIN of Canberra sushi outlets are facing legal action from the Fair Work Ombudsman for allegedly exploiting overseas workers in the ACT.

Rebecca Yi Jeong Shin, who operates several outlets called “Sushi Bay” across Australia, including “Sushi Bay Belconnen” will face the Federal Circuit Court. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Ms Shin and Sushi Bay ACT Pty Ltd underpaid 22 employees at Sushi Bay Belconnen a total of $18,671 between November 2015 and March 2016.

Most of the “underpaid” employees were Korean nationals, including four juniors aged between 17 and 19, who were in Australia on working holiday and student visas.

Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors audited Sushi Bay Belconnen and 40 sushi outlets across Northern NSW, Newcastle, Central Coast NSW, the Gold Coast and Canberra, to check workers were being paid correctly.

Inspectors found that pay rates at Sushi Bay Belconnen did not comply with the “Restaurant Industry Award 2010”.

It’s believed that employees’ minimum weekday rates, casual loadings and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work were underpaid and leave entitlements were underpaid. 

The employees were underpaid amounts ranging from $103 to $1992 but Sushi Bay ACT Pty Ltd has rectified the underpayments in full.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says a significant factor in the decision to commence legal action was that the Fair Work Ombudsman had received underpayment allegations dating back to 2007 from employees of businesses operated by Ms Shin – and Ms Shin had previously been put on notice to rectify non-compliance issues.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking the imposition of penalties against Ms Shin and Sushi Bay ACT, as well as an injunction restraining them from underpaying workers in future.

Ms Shin faces penalties of up to $10,800 per contravention, while the company faces penalties of up to $54,000 per contravention.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit fairwork.gov.au  or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94

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