'Failure to comply due to ignorance must be viewed more leniently than a deliberate non-compliance,' says magistrate
In a recent legal development, a Red Rooster franchise in Wodonga faced penalties for multiple child labour breaches.
Wodonga Food Pty Ltd, the operator of the outlet near the Victoria-NSW border, pleaded guilty and was fined $5500, along with $4000 in court costs by the Melbourne Magistrates Court, according to Yahoo!News.
The charges, initially totaling 355, were consolidated to 29 violations involving 10 children under 15, spanning 169 occasions throughout 2022. The breaches included employing minors for shifts longer than three hours or beyond 9 pm, lack of adult supervision with a valid Working With Children clearance, and hiring without a permit.
Ignorance of regulations around child labour
Magistrate Timothy Gattuso emphasized that the offenses stemmed from ignorance of Victorian regulations rather than recklessness. He observed that the business operator ran six compliant Red Rooster franchises across the border in NSW, stating, "A failure to comply due to such ignorance must be viewed more leniently than a deliberate non-compliance."
Gattuso highlighted the responsibility of all employers to be aware of and comply with relevant laws in each state of operation, according to Yahoo!News. He also emphasized the duty of franchisors, especially those in large corporations with a national or international presence, to ensure they do not mislead franchisees and lead them into legal violations.
Commissioner Robert Hortle from Victoria's Wage Inspectorate expressed the community's expectation for businesses like Red Rooster to prioritize a safe workplace for young employees. He emphasized the need for franchisors, particularly large corporations, to demonstrate leadership in compliance with child employment laws, said Yahoo!News.
Hortle noted that the magistrate pointed out incorrect information on child employment laws provided by the franchisor. "We're looking to franchisors, particularly large, well-resourced corporations, to show leadership in this space and ensure their franchisees comply with child employment laws," he stated.