Nearly 400 West Australian hospitality workers have been underpaid by restaurants and cafes that do not comply with employment law.

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety inspectors discovered 49 WA cafes and restaurants were underpaying staff during a 12-month investigation. Underpayments were identified for 369 employees’, valued close to $350,000.

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety executive director Lorraine Field reflects, not all businesses underpay their staff intentionally however, it appears there is a systematic problem in some cafes and restaurants underpaying their employees. An alarming number of businesses continue to underpay employees after being exposed by the investigation. Although many cafes and restaurants are doing it tough after COVID-19, complying with employment law is not optional, and inspections will continue to target high-risk industries, she declared.

One of the restaurants underpaid 50 staff members $73,100, workers were not paid their correct award rate or penalty loadings. Unexplained pay deductions and unwarranted adjustments to annual leave also contributed to the underpayment. The restaurant has agreed to pay back employees but will be subject to future inspection for compliance.

Investigators visited cafes and restaurants unannounced, inspected employment records and spoke to employees during the 12-month investigation. Since the investigation, over half the total repayment has been returned to employees.

Half of all WA hospitality employees are between 15 and 24 years old, and a third of employees are migrant or visa workers, meaning they are likely unaware of their rights.

For assistance determining the correct pay rate for your employees contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896 or

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Written by Danielle McNamee


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