Mamak restaurants accused of underpaying staff … again

After being fined almost $300,000 last year, the operators of the popular Mamak Malaysian restaurants are again facing legal action for allegedly underpaying staff.


The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking legal action against the restaurant owner-operators Joon Hoe Lee, Julian Lee and Alan Wing-Keung Au in the Federal Circuit Court, alleging two Sydney employees were deliberately short-changed. It is also alleged false records were used to try to disguise the underpayments.

???The owner-operators face penalties of up to $10,800 per contravention and Mamak Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $54,000 per contravention.

In the latest claim, two workers at the Mamak restaurant at Chatswood were paid as little as $12 and $13 an hour, between 2014 and 2016. This resulted in underpayments of their minimum hourly rates, casual loadings and penalty rates.

One employee was an Australian citizen who worked as a waiter. The other employee was a waitress from Singapore working on temporary visas.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Joon Hoe Lee, Julian Lee and Alan Wing-Keung Au and Mamak Pty Ltd breached workplace laws by providing its inspectors with false records. The records showed the employees had been paid much higher rates than they received.

Last year, the restaurant operators were penalised $294,848 for underpaying six employees at the Mamak restaurant at Haymarket, in Sydney. The employees included five visa-holders who were paid as little as $11 an hour, resulting in more than $87,000 in underpayments under the Restaurant Industry Award from 2012 to 2015.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said she was concerned court action had again become necessary.

The Ombudsman is also seeking court orders requiring Mamak Pty Ltd to provide accurate pay records.

It is also seeking an injunction to restraining the owner-operators from underpaying workers in the future.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on June 20.

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