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Workers allegedly paid in food and drink, not money

(Image: Getty)

A Brisbane café is facing allegations that it paid some of its staff with food and drink rather than money.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking Café 63 Chermside and three directors and managers to the federal circuit court over allegations concerning 11 workers.

The café is accused of paying a part of those workers wages in "meals, desserts and drinks" over two periods between August 2017 and January 2018.

The agreement signed with the staff included "allowances" of food and drink each day up to the value of $20 in meals, $7 in dessert and $15 in drinks.

"All employees in Australia are entitled to be paid the minimum pay rates that apply to their positions – in money, not food," said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

The Fair Work Act specifies that employees must be paid in money, according to the Ombudsman.

The café is also in trouble for allegedly keeping "false and misleading" records or not maintaining proper paperwork, in contravention of workplace laws.

The records were so bad, according to the Ombudsman, that the amount of back-pay owed to the 11 workers could not even be precisely calculated.

The affected workers were employed as cooks, kitchen assistants and food & beverage attendants. Seven of the 11 employees were aged under 21, and most of the group were visa holders.

"Businesses should be aware that we are cracking down on the underpayment of vulnerable workers in the fast food, restaurant and café sector as a priority," said Parker.

"If we consider that employers are breaching their lawful obligation, we will take enforcement action so employees receive what they are entitled to."

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