Court notes that employer showed no remorse
The Federal Circuit and Family Court imposed the penalty against IFITS Food Co Pty Ltd, the franchisee for the Warwick-based outlet on Albion Street until its closure in late 2021,
The sum resulted from IFITS Food Co's failure to comply with compliance notices, which mandated the calculation and back-payment of entitlements to two workers employed at the Warwick Pizza Hut outlet in part-time roles from March 2020 to October 2021.
The affected workers included an assistant manager and a kitchen hand/customer service role, with the latter being 17 years old at the time of employment.
Alongside the penalty, the court directed IFITS Food Co to fully back-pay the workers, inclusive of relevant superannuation for one worker and interest for both.
The Fair Work Ombudsman initiated the investigation based on requests for assistance from the affected workers. Following the investigation, a Fair Work Inspector issued Compliance Notices to IFITS Food Co in February and April 2022, suspecting the company's failure to pay the workers' accrued annual leave entitlements and payment in lieu of notice of termination entitlements for the young worker.
According to records, the employer admitted that it “failed to take the specified action under the compliance notices” and “to produce reasonable evidence” that justified its failure.
The court also noted that the employer “has generally failed to engage with the court process.”
Employer has no remorse?
In imposing the penalty, the court found that the employer showed no remorse after its failure to comply with its directions.
“Where a party has failed to comply with orders of the court, or where a party has otherwise failed to show contrition for its contraventions of the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009, such actions ought appropriately result in a higher pecuniary penalty being imposed than in circumstances where orders of the Court had been complied with, and where real expressions of contrition had been observed,” the court said.
“There is no evidence that [the employer] has taken any action to change its recalcitrant behaviour,” it added.
The court emphasised the necessity of deterring the company and others from similar conduct in the future, noting a lack of evidence indicating any corrective measures taken by IFITS Food Co to address its non-compliant behaviour.