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More than 100 underpaid Muffin Break, Jamaica Blue staff get their $27,000 back

166 Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break employees were underpaid by the franchisor. (Source: Muffin Break, Commercial Real Estate)
166 Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break employees were underpaid by the franchisor. (Source: Muffin Break, Commercial Real Estate)

The owner of Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break cafes has back-paid 166 employees nearly $27,000 after an audit found workers had been underpaid.

The franchisor, Foodco, agreed to pay a total $26,562.30 following the two-year audit and compliance agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The third-party audits found 152 employees were underpaid $4,244.75. Additionally, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) referred a further 12 requests for assistance from Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue staff to Foodco, which saw 14 more employees back-paid $22,317.55.

Foodco signed a compliance agreement with the FWO in 2017, covering more than 4,000 workers, aimed at addressing concerns with major franchisors and workplace law compliance cultures in these networks.

The compliance deed commits Foodco to improving compliance with Australia’s workplace laws through its network, including enlisting an independent auditor to ensure staff are given their correct entitlements.

Foodco has had to conduct workplace law training for staff and franchisees, establish an employment relations hotline for staff to flag concerns, and improve access to information on workplace laws.

“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,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

“Franchisors are responsible for ensuring compliance throughout their service network,” she added.

Two Muffin Break franchise operators separately entered into enforceable undertakings with the FWO in 2014 and 2016 after it was found that workers at these cafes were underpaid.

Earlier this year, the general manager of Muffin Break, Natalie Brennan, was slammed on social media after she criticised millennials for having an “inflated view of their self importance”.

“I’m generalising, but it definitely feels like this generation of 20-somethings has to be rewarded even if it’s the most mundane, boring thing, they want to be rewarded for doing their job constantly,” Brennan said.

“There’s just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody.”

In response, Australian Council of Trade Unions’ secretary Sally McManus shot a thinly veiled warning to the baking franchise.

“Millennials have had enough of being robbed,” she tweeted at the time.

“Good on them. Those doing the robbing had better watch out.”

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