Fish and chip shop fined for failure to pay minimum wage

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 4th August 2008

A Melbourne fish and chip shop has been fined $17,000 for paying two 14 and 15-year-old girls just $5 an hour.The business has also been ordered to back-pay the teenagers almost $1500 after an investigation by the federal Workplace Ombudsman.

Owner Con Papageorgiou, trading as Sharx, told workplace inspectors he thought he was doing the girls “a favour” by giving them work experience.

Papageorgiou paid the girls a flat rate of $5 an hour at his take-away shop at Ferntree Gully’s Mountain Gate Shopping Centre.

They should have been paid $9.52 an hour plus penalty rates.

In the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court last week, Sharx was found guilty of five breaches of the Fast Food Retail Victoria Common Rule Declaration 2005 and the Australian Fair Pay and Classification Standard.

Magistrate Kate Hawkins fined the company:

• $4000 for failing to pay minimum rates
• $4000 for failing to pay minimum hours
• $3000 for failing to pay Saturday loading
• $3000 for failing to pay Sunday loading, and
• $3000 for failing to pay loading for hours worked after 6pm

Workplace Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell said the result was yet another example that the courts would not tolerate abuses of young workers.

“Handing down her penalty, Magistrate Hawkins expressed concern about the exploitive and opportunistic nature of the underpayments and the company’s lack of contrition,” Mr Campbell said.

“She commented that junior employees lacking experience and knowledge about their entitlements were vulnerable and the penalty reflected the need for deterrence to prevent the hospitality industry exploiting young workers seeking their first jobs.”