Sydney-based coffee brand 85 Degrees Coffee has been fined $475,200 after paying staff less than $6 an hour
A Sydney cafe brand has been fined nearly half a million dollars for deliberately exploiting young Taiwanese workers and paying them less than $6 an hour under the guise of an internship.
Cafe chain 85 Degrees Coffee Australia Pty Ltd has been fined $475,200 by federal court – the second-highest fine of its kind – for exploiting eight students who came to Australia from Taiwan as part of a deal arranged by the brand’s parent company were.
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The students came to Australia on working holiday visas for the “internship” arrangement, but while entitled to minimum wage and overtime rates, annual leave and pension benefits, they were each paid between $50,213 and $58,248 over a period of nearly 12 years months underpaid.
Each student was paid between $1,650 and $1,750 a month for performing 60 to 70 hours a week of work in 85 Degrees factories and retail outlets in Sydney, in what Judge Robert Bromwich found a willful abuse of power.
“The end result was undoubtedly exploitative, and the contradictory behavior itself was clearly intentional,” Bromwich said.
“The long hours worked, unpaid by overtime or penalties, longer than other workers, compounded the poor living conditions and general comfort caused by being unable to pay for decent housing.”
Students raised the alarm with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), who last year took legal action to ensure workers were paid back.
The penalty is the fifth highest ever imposed in an FWO case and the second highest by the Ombudsman against a single company.
“The sizeable penalty sends a clear message that the exploitative behavior we have seen in this matter will not be tolerated in any Australian workplace,” said FWO Sandra Parker.
Taipei City University of Science and Technology students worked across the street at an 85 Degrees Cake Factory in St. Peters, 85 Degrees Bread Factory in Hurstville and 85 Degrees Cafe on George Street in Sydney’s CBD.
Bromwich said the penalties were intended to deter other employers from similar behavior.
Parker reiterated this, saying, “Employers must pay the statutory minimum wage applicable to all workers, for all hours worked, regardless of a worker’s nationality or visa status.”
“Any worker who has concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us.”
https://7news.com.au/business/workplace-matters/sydney-cafe-brand-85-degrees-coffee-fined-475200-after-paying-staff-less-than-6-an-hour-c-8785991 Sydney-based coffee brand 85 Degrees Coffee has been fined $475,200 after paying staff less than $6 an hour