FWO announces legal action against Yogurberry

by Miklos Bolza14 Jul 2016
Frozen yoghurt chain Yogurberry is facing court proceedings after the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) claimed the franchise underpaid four overseas workers.
According to a recent FWO statement, four Korean nationals on 417 working holiday visas were allegedly short-changed almost $18,000.
While working at the World Square store in Sydney between July 2014 and May 2015, the employees were paid $8 an hour for a six-hour training program before being offered hourly flat rates of as low as $11.
Legal action will be taken against YBF Australia, the master franchiser of Yogurberry in Australia, which the FWO claims controlled the World Square outlet through its associated company Yogurberry World Square.
Part owner of YBF Australia, Sook Ok Oh, is also facing court proceedings as are Yogurberry World Square and CL Group (another Yogurberry Group Company).
The workers were underpaid $17,827 in total, the agency claimed. Furthermore, the company failed to provide special clothing allowance or superannuation, and made unlawful deductions from the worker’s wages.
Laws relating to minimum shifts, classifications, record-keeping and pay slips were also violated, according to the FWO.
The investigation was sparked after one employee lodged a request for assistance with the agency. All entitlements have now been back-paid except for superannuation which is owed to two workers.
Prior allegations
This is not the first time the franchise has come under the watchful eye of the FWO with the agency investigating a series of underpayment allegations as far back as 2013.
YBF Australia has previously been presented with a letter of caution and two infringement notices (including on-the-spot fines), along with multiple requests to back-pay affected workers.
These previous instances and the fact this case involved overseas workers were “significant factors” in the decision to take legal action, Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said.
External audits
YBF Australia, Yogurberry World Square and CL Group each face fines of between $25,500 and $51,000 per infringement while Soon Ok Oh faces penalties of between $5,100 and $10,200.
The FWO is also seeking a court order to conduct a full external audit of all Yogurberry stores in Australia next year and remedy all underpayments discovered.
An additional order requesting the firms to hold workplace relations training for all managers has also been requested.
The directions hearing will be held at the Federal Court in Sydney on 26 July.
HC has contacted Yogurberry for further comment.
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