The investigation of 16 outlets of franchise Top Juice from the Fair Work Ombudsman found that it had underpaid employees at five outlets and breached payslip obligations at two outlets.
The most common breaches found were non-payment of weekend, public holiday and overtime penalty rates (65 per cent) and underpayments of the minimum hourly rate (30 per cent).
In response to the breaches, inspectors issued five Compliance Notices requiring employers to rectify breaches of the law, resulting in full back-payments, the FWO said.
There was also one formal caution and two infringement notices for payslip breaches, with penalties totalling $420. In addition, those businesses were put on notice that any future breaches will likely lead to enforcement action.
Inspectors made surprise visits to nine stores in Sydney, three in Melbourne and one each in Brisbane, Canberra, NSW’s Central Coast and Wollongong, and the Sydney head office late last year following multiple anonymous reports from workers about potential breaches of workplace laws.
The franchisor operated four of the outlets visited, with the remaining 12 operated by franchisees.
Inspectors interviewed employees, managers and store owners and checked records and payslips.
The FWO recovered $32,435 in unpaid wages for 18 workers, with $29,384 recovered for 13 Melbourne workers from two businesses (both franchisee stores), $2,597 for four Sydney workers from two businesses, and $453 for one Canberra worker from one business.
Recoveries from individual businesses ranged from $174 for three employees at a Sydney store to $17,718 for seven employees in a Melbourne business. Fifteen of the 18 underpaid workers were visa holders, on student and working holiday visas.
“The FWO’s investigation into the Top Juice network was based upon complaints we had received from migrant employees, including international students, who can be particularly vulnerable due to their visa status and may have limited understanding of their workplace rights,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman continues to focus on improving workplace compliance among franchises in the food industry this year.
“While the Top Juice investigations commence prior to the pandemic, the FWO has continued to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner, as we know COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many businesses in the fast food, restaurant and café industry.”