Foodco, the franchisor of the Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break cafés, has back-paid 166 employees a total of $26,562.30 under a two-year audit and compliance agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The FWO invited Foodco to sign a two-year Proactive Compliance Deed in 2017, which covered more than 4000 Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue workers across Australia.
The FWO’s invitation sought to address concerns it had with a number of major franchisors and the workplace law compliance cultures in these service networks, including Foodco’s.
This followed Enforceable Undertakings the FWO entered into with two Muffin Break franchise operators, one in 2014 and the other with a former operator in 2016, after workers at these cafés were underpaid.
The deed with the workplace regulator 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 third-party audits identified 152 employees were underpaid a total of $4,244.75. The regulator also referred an additional 12 requests for assistance from Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue staff to Foodco, which resulted in 14 employees being back-paid $22,317.55.
Under the compliance deed, Foodco has also conducted workplace law training for staff and franchisees, established an employment relations hotline for staff to raise concerns, and improved access to information on workplace laws across the business.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the compliance deed will continue to benefit current and future Foodco employees.
“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,” Ms Parker 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.”
“Under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers amendments to the Fair Work Act in 2017, franchisors are responsible for ensuring compliance throughout their service network,” Ms Parker said.