Company required to 'overhaul workplace practices'

The operator failed to pay the employees a clothing allowance, and did not provide rest and meal breaks

Company required to 'overhaul workplace practices'

Oriental Food Australia Pty Ltd will overhaul its workplace practices under an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

The speciality supermarket operator in Melbourne was found to have underpaid three Chinese workers a total of almost $75,000.

The employees were in Australia on student or working holiday visas during their employment.

Ying Zhang and his company, which operates five supermarkets under the Crown Asian Supermarket and Kyoto Mart brands, entered into the Enforceable Undertaking after underpaying the three casual employees between July 2014 and September 2016.

The three employees had been paid unlawfully low flat hourly rates, resulting in underpayment of the ordinary hourly rate and weekend and public holiday penalty rates they were entitled to under the General Retail Industry Award 2010.

Zhang and his company also breached workplace laws by failing to pay the employees a clothing allowance, failing to provide rest and meal breaks, and failing to provide the workers with a Fair Work Information Statement when they commenced employment.

Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the Undertaking requires the company “to overhaul workplace practices across all of its supermarket stores”.

"Enforceable Undertakings such as this one require major improvements from employers, which creates sustainable compliance improvements that benefit current and future employees,” said Parker.

Oriental Food Australia is now required to engage an external professional to complete three audits of the pay and conditions of employees across its supermarkets and rectify any underpayments found.

Parker said Oriental Food Australia had “narrowly avoided litigation” by promptly backpaying the workers in full, agreeing to make a significant donation to the Job Watch Employment Rights Legal Centre and committing to a number of measures aimed at ensuring future compliance across all stores owned by Zhang.

“Every worker in Australia has the same workplace rights, regardless of their citizenship or visa status, and paying migrant workers a ‘market rate’ that undercuts the applicable minimum Award rates is unlawful and unacceptable,” said Parker.

Related stories:
Pizza company accused of discriminating against migrant staff
IGA operator fined for 'egregious' exploitation of workers


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