Wages recovered for Top Juice workers

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $32,435 in unpaid wages for 18 workers following an investigation into 16 outlets of fresh juice and salad franchise Top Juice across eastern Australia.

Fair Work 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 regulator found that seven of the outlets (44 per cent) were non-compliant with workplace laws, including five franchisee stores. Five outlets had underpaid employees, and two had breached payslip obligations. 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 total, $29,384 was 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. 15 of the 18 underpaid workers were visa holders, on student and working holiday visas.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker reminded employers that all employees in Australia have the same rights at work, regardless of nationality.

“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,” Ms Parker said.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman continues to focus on improving workplace compliance among franchises in the food industry this year. While the Top Juice investigation 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.”

In response to the breaches, inspectors issued five Compliance Notices requiring employers to rectify breaches of the law, resulting in full back-payments. There was also one formal caution, and two Infringement Notices for pay slip breaches with penalties totalling $420. These businesses were put on notice that any future breaches will likely lead to enforcement action.

Targeted advice and resources are available to franchises for free at www.fairwork.gov.au/franchises and for the fast food, restaurant and café sector at www.fairwork.gov.au/frac.

Call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or a free interpreter service on 13 14 50. Know a workplace not doing the right thing but don’t want to get involved? Report it anonymously – in your language.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.