The operators of a Queensland cafe located in a Westfield shopping centre and the owner of the chain's brand have been ordered to pay $139,800 in penalties for ripping off young staff by insisting they receive a slice of their wages in food and drinks.

Timi Trading Pty Ltd, which runs the Cafe 63 Chermside, in the Westfield shopping centre in Brisbane's northern suburbs, has been ordered to pay $95,000 by the Federal Circuit Court as part of legal action taken by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).
The FWO brought the case as part of a wider crackdown on claims of wage-theft in the hospitality industry in Queensland.

The Cafe 63 chain has 37 outlets across Queensland and has long trading hours, trading from 7am til 10pm in Chermside.

Cafe 63 at Westfield Chermside. The chain is coming to Cairns in 2019.
Cafe 63 at Westfield Chermside. The chain is coming to Cairns in 2019.

The Federal Circuit Court also ordered Timi Trading director and manager Vietnam-born Tien Hoang Le, 28, and his wife, company manager Minh Vo Duy Nguyen, from Hendra to pay $20,000 for their role in the unlawful underpayment of migrant cooks, kitchen-hands and waiters occurred on various dates between August 2017 and January 2018.

New-Zealand-born Hamish Watson, 60, from Kangaroo Point, the owner of the Cafe 63 brand, was penalised $4,800 for his involvement in one contravention by Timi Trading.

The court found that 11 employees at the cafe were paid part of their wages in food and drink during two periods between August 2017 and January 2018.

Mr Le and Ms Nguyen were involved in breaches relating to 11 workers and Mr Watson was involved in breaches relating to six workers.

They were mostly young foreigners living in Australia on student or bridging visas, were paid a lower hourly wage than the Restaurant Industry Award but were told they could eat and drink their way through $42 worth of food each day at work.

Seven of the group had not reached 21 years old.

Cafe 63 at Westfield Chermside.
Cafe 63 at Westfield Chermside.

Timi Trading was also found to have breached workplace laws by providing the FWO with false and misleading records, failing to make and keep proper records and failing to enter into written part-time agreements.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said in a statement that Timi Trading's conduct breached the provision of the Fair Work Act.

"Purporting to pay employees in food and drink is a clear breach of workplace laws and employers can face significant penalties," Ms Parker said.

"Employers have a lawful responsibility to ensure they understand the lawful minimum wage rates and entitlements that apply to their staff and they must pay those wages and entitlements in full at all times," she said.

Originally published as Staff paid in food, cafe fined $140k


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