Espresso Warriors ex-franchisee fined $20,000 for workplace breach

Espresso Warriors ex-franchisee fined
The Mittagong cafe, now closed, was operated by HML Holdings. (Source:

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a $20,000 penalty in court against a former Espresso Warriors franchisee.

The operator of the café in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales was fined for failing to comply with a Compliance Notice which required the back-payment of entitlements to a migrant worker .

In addition to the penalty, the ex-franchisee HML Holdings must pay entitlements owed, plus interest.

The migrant worker was a visa holder employed at the café as a full-time chef between June 2020 and February 2022.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said “When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements.

“Employers also need to be aware that taking action to improve compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector and protecting vulnerable workers like visa holders are enduring priorities for the FWO. Visa holders have the same workplace rights as any other employee.”

In imposing the penalty, Judge Natasha Laing said HML Holdings had shown a “concerning level of disregard for its obligations under the Fair Work Act” and that the company had “provided no indication of any contrition or intention to pay the employee’s entitlements without further enforcement action”.

Judge Laing said “The penalty imposed in this matter should be sufficiently high to impress upon other employers the importance of complying with their legal obligations, and in particular the need to comply with statutory notices from the FWO,” Judge Laing said.

The cafe in the Highlands Marketplace in Mittagong closed in 2022.

The FWO has filed 126 litigations involving visa holder workers, and secured more than $13.4 million in court-ordered penalties, in the past five full financial years.