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Former cafe owner hit with $8k fine after failing to properly pay chef

A former Sunshine Coast cafe owner has been hit with an $8000 fine after failing to pay a chef her correct entitlements.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court imposed the penalty against BP Foods Pty Ltd, which operated Food Lovers Fresh - a fresh food retailer and cafe - at the Sunshine Coast Home Shopping Centre until the business ceased trading in March 2020.

The penalty was imposed in response to BP Foods Pty Ltd breaching the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to calculate entitlements owed to an employee and back-pay any underpayment.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a worker who had been employed by BP Foods as a full-time chef from November 2019 to March 2020.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to the company in September 2020 after forming a belief the worker was not paid entitlements owed under the National Employment Standards at the end of her employment, being payment in lieu of notice of termination and accrued annual leave.

Back-payments were only made in full for the accrued annual leave and in lieu of notice of termination after the ombudsman started court proceedings.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Mr Scully said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

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