More than 160 employees of Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break cafes have received back pay after a two-year audit of franchisor Foodco.
The Fair Work Ombudsman said the staff were found to have been underpaid during the course of the Proactive Compliance Deed signed back in 2017, and has seen a total of 166 employees back-paid $26,562.30.
It comes after the controversy earlier this year which saw Muffin Break’s general manager forced to apologise for her remarks about younger Australians having an “inflated” sense of self-entitlement and not wanting to undertake unpaid work.
The Proactive Compliance Deed had followed two enforceable undertakings where franchise operators were found to have underpaid staff in 2016 and earlier in 2014.
According to the ombudsman, the deed “committed Foodco to improve compliance with Australia’s workplace laws throughout its network, including an independent third party conducting an audit to ensure staff received their correct entitlements”.
The audits identified 152 employees that were underpaid $4,244.75.
It was reported that the regulator also referred an additional 12 requests for assistance from Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue staff to Foodco, which then resulted in 14 employers being back-paid $22,317.55.
The deed also required Foodco to conduct workplace law training for staff and franchisees, and saw the establishment of an employment relations hotline for staff to raise concerns.
It also saw access to information on workplace laws improved across the business.
The compliance deed will continue to benefit current and future Foodco employees, according to Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.
“Our key objective of this partnership was to ensure that Foodco established processes to identify and resolve workplace disputes efficiently across its network, and educate franchisees on their lawful obligations under the Fair Work Act,” she said.
“Franchisors are a priority sector for the Fair Work Ombudsman, and we urge all head offices to prioritise compliance with workplace laws or they risk damage to their brand and employees.”
Ms Parker emphasised that under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers amendments to the Fair Work Act in 2017, “franchisors are responsible for ensuring compliance throughout their service network”.
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