Macedon Lounge is the first Victorian restaurant to be charged under new wage theft laws.  

Wage Inspectorate Victoria has filed 94 criminal charges in the Magistrates Court of Victoria against a Macedon restaurant and its officer. 

It is alleged Rehmat & Mehar Pty Ltd and its officer breached wage theft laws by dishonestly witholding more than $7,000 in employee entitlements, including wages, penalty rates and superannuation, from four young former staff members. 

Rehmat & Mehar Pty Ltd and its officer each face 47 charges. 

It became a crime for an employer to dishonestly underpay employees or withhold their entitlements on July 1, last year. 

Wage Inspectorate Victoria commissioner Robert Hortle said the organisation had been investigating wage theft reports, with the intent to bring matters before the court. 

“The Wage Inspectorate has been investigating complaints, interviewing witnesses and exercising our coercive powers,” Commissioner Hortle said.

“We take each report seriously and will prosecute where appropriate.” 

In a Facebook post from May 2021, restaurant owner Gary Setia said he was proud of the way his team had operated since opening during the pandemic. 

The ABC has contacted Macedon Lounge for comment.

Australian-first wage theft case

Under the Victorian Wage Theft Act 2020, the company could face a fine of more than $1 million, while individuals face up to 10 years in jail.

Its the first time charges have been laid under the act and the first time in any Australian jurisdiction. 

“These are the only stand-alone, criminal wage theft laws in Australia,” Commissioner Hortle said.

The Wage Inspectorate has instigated 10 prosecutions since July 1 2021, including matters against NAB, CommSec and BankWest. 

The matters have been listed for mention in the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on February 21, 2023.