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Muffin Break franchises to pay up

Muffin BreakTwo Melbourne Muffin Break stores to reimburse a 24 year old Chinese student who was underpaid almost $20,000, says the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The employee was in Australia on a 572 student visa and took a casual job at a Muffin Break store in the Doncaster shopping centre in January, 2012.

She later worked in a second store, owned by the same operator, in the Eastlands shopping centre at Ringwood until the end of September last year.

After receiving a request for assistance from the employee, Fair Work inspectors found she had been paid a flat hourly rate as low as $10, which was below the minimum required under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

The two Muffin franchises are operated by Ausnutrie (Doncaster) and Austrirocks (Ringwood).

Ausnutrie is owned and operated jointly by Jian Liu and Qi Wang. Ms Wang is the sole director of Austrirocks.

Their franchises are among almost 200 Muffin Break stores in Australia operated by franchisor the Foodco Group.

Both Ausnutrie and Austrirocks demonstrated a high degree of cooperation with the Fair Work Ombudsman and agreed to repay their former employee in full and provide a written apology.

As a result of the contraventions, the two companies have entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The requirements include posting a workplace notice advising other employees of the contraventions, a public commitment that such behavior will not occur again, workplace relations training and self auditing for the next two years.

Enforceable Undertakings were introduced by legislation in 2009 and the Fair Work Ombudsman has been using them to achieve strong outcomes against companies that breach workplace laws without civil court proceedings.

John Macphail, national brand manager at Muffin Break released the following statement: “We are most concerned about this occurrence with one of our franchisees in Victoria. Muffin Break has strict guidelines and procedures in place regarding workplace relations and we pride ourselves on observing good work practice and being an employer of choice.   We have a regular follow up process with all Muffin Break franchisees and their employee obligations and this incident is regrettable.  We have taken measures to ensure all our franchisees are reminded of their obligations”.

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