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Australian Cafe Busted for Fining Workers for Overcooked Waffles, 'Not Crispy' Pork

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Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

A cafe in Australia has been fined over $7,000 AUD (more than $6500 USD) for its unlawful practices of docking employee pay as a form of punishment. The West Australian reports that the owners of the unnamed Subiaco cafe (outside of Perth) would deduct money from employee pay checks for offenses ranging from overcooking waffles (-$12 AUD, $11.30 USD), misplaced tomatoes in club sandwiches (-$30 AUD, 28.24 USD), and not prepping parsley for the next day (-$10 AUD, $9.41 USD).

In another egregious incident, a cook alleges that $112 AUD ($105.41 USD) was deducted from her pay check "after her employer decided the crackling on a pork belly dish was 'not crispy enough'." Apparently employees were also forced to pay $1200 AUD ($1129.43 USD) out of pocket for "cooking demonstrations."

According to the Australian AP, the employees affected by the ludicrous pay deductions were from India and Nepal on "regional sponsored migration visas." None of this is legal in Australia, of course, so in addition to fines, the cafe has been forced by the Fair Work Commission to repay each employee $5000 AUD ($4,705.98). Not surprisingly, the business will be "monitored" going forward.

· Cafe Cooked Up Pay Cuts [West Australian via Gawker]
· All Wages Coverage on Eater [-E-]