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Chatime employees allegedly underpaid $46,000 by franchisee bosses

(Sources: EventConnect, Getty)

The former operators of a Sydney-based Chatime franchise have been hauled to the Federal Circuit Court by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to face allegations it underpaid employees more than $46,000.

Facing the music are Carlo Benjamin Dela Cruz and Leiden Emmanuel Panol, the directors of Panol DC Pty Ltd, which operated Chatime Cinema City on George Street in the central business district of Sydney.

According to the FWO, employees at Chatime Cinema City were paid flat rates as low as $13 to $18.55 an hour between January and November 2017.

It is claimed that this meant ordinary hourly rates, casual loadings and special clothing allowances that workers were entitled to under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 were not observed. Public holiday penalty rates were also allegedly not paid in full.

Most of the employees said to be underpaid by Dela Cruz and Panol are under the age of 21 and are visa holders and international students, pointed out Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

Dela Cruz and Panol are also claimed to have breached record-keeping laws.

In total, the FWO claims that 17 employees were not paid a total sum of $46,372 that was entitled to them – and they’re still waiting to be back-paid.

“All workers in Australia have the same rights, regardless of citizenship or visa status, and we encourage anyone with concerns about their pay to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman,” Parker said.

“We have an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs that allows visa holders to seek our help without fear of their visa being cancelled.”

Panol and Dela Cruz personally face fines of up to $12,600 for each contravention if proven, while the maximum penalty for Panol DC Pty Ltd reaches up to $63,000 per contravention.

The FWO is looking to obtain Court orders to have Panol DC, Panol and Dela Cruz fully back-pay the employee; display a workplace notice with information about workplace laws; have the directors register with the FWO website; and complete workplace relations training.

A directions hearing has been listed in Sydney’s Federal Circuit Court for 3 May 2019.

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