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Fried chicken stores raided after staff underpayment allegations

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The Fair Work Ombudsman ran “surprise audits” of a popular Korean fried chicken franchise network on Thursday, responding to complaints from staff about underpayment of wages.

Ombudsman inspectors visited 19 Gami Chicken and Beer stores in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth to check that they were paying their workers legally.

The operation was triggered after more than 20 enquiries and complaints from Gami Chicken staff were reported to the Ombudsman. Issues included getting short-changed on wages, not receiving penalty rates and not having pay slips issued.

“Like many people working in the fast food sector, Gami Chicken and Beer staff are potentially vulnerable due to their age, cultural background or visa status,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

“It is important for us to talk with these workers on the ground so they are aware of their workplace rights and that we can help them.”

According to the ombudsman’s office, the hospitality sector is overrepresented among complaints from employees. Even though the industry only employs 7 percent of the workforce, almost 40 percent of anonymous tip-offs and one-third of legal action involved that sector.

“Australia’s minimum pay rates are not negotiable and employers in the fast food, restaurant and café sector should actively check that they are paying their staff correctly.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $4 million last financial year on behalf of workers from fast food and café employers.

Gami Chicken and Beer was founded 2006 but started franchising in 2015. The chain now has eateries in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Canberra, while it is currently advertising for new outlets in Brisbane and Adelaide.

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