Aussie fast-food chain vows to ‘modernise’ outdated contracts

by Chloe Taylor24 Jul 2015
Australian fast-food chain Grill’d is allegedly underpaying hundreds of young workers by hiring staff on compulsory traineeships and outdated employment agreements.
According to reports by Fairfax Media, an analysis of the company’s workplace deals across the country has revealed that many employees – most often teenagers – are being paid less than what their modern award dictates they are entitled to.
This comes as Grill’d faces legal action from a former employee, who alleges that the company sacked her for challenging the below par wages at an outlet in Camberwell.
Employees at dozens of the company’s outlets and franchises that opened before or during the WorkChoices era are reportedly paid flat hourly rates without additional entitlements, meaning that their pay is less than the relevant award.
At the age of 16, staff members are reported to be being paid hourly rates of $9.50, while those ages 21 and over are receiving $17.70. However, without penalty rates, employees could be losing over $40 on weekend shifts of 4.5 hours.
Grill’d outlets that have opened since the WorkChoices legislation was scrapped are required to include higher wage rates in their employment agreements, including overtime pay.
However, enrolment in retail training – which is described in employment contracts as “compulsory and a condition of ongoing employment” – allows the company to pay its younger employees below award wages.
Simon Crowe, founder and managing director said the training program was fundamental to the company’s values.
Since the reports emerged, Crowe has vowed to “modernise” the company’s 2005 workplace contract.
“There will be a review of all terms and conditions,” he told radio station 3AW on Thursday. “I suspect there will be increases in pay ... I don't think that's something to be hidden or shied away from.”
Chief operating officer Jon Swann said all Grill’d employment agreements were legally valid, and ensured lawful rates of pay for employees, including trainees. He added that flat hourly rates had been tested against the award when the deal was struck in 2005.
“Rates of pay have been reviewed annually, including relevant increases, to ensure that they do not fall below any base rate of pay in the otherwise applicable award,” he told Fairfax.
Jess Walsh, state secretary of United Voice – the union representing hospitality industry workers – said that while the Grill’d agreements were not illegal, they were unfair.
She told The Age that the union had received complaints that the traineeships involved little or no training and appeared to be a “calculated effort to suppress wages”.
“We are looking closely into making a complaint to the training authority,” she said.



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