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Soul Origin Workers Back-paid $79,000 In Stolen Wages

Soul Origin workers back-paid $79,000 in stolen wages

Soul Origin workers have been back-paid $79,000 in stolen wages after surprise audits by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The regulator investigated 39 outlets following multiple complaints of wage theft from workers.

Soul Origin workers back-paid

Soul Origin is a franchise chain of health food stores operating across Australia that sell salads, sandwiches and also coffee.

Fair Work conducted surprise audits of 38 outlets in Canberra, Sydney, Wollongong, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Adelaide and Melbourne.

It also investigated another store operated by the franchisor and its Sydney based manufacturing site, in September last year.

As a result, Fair Work found most (33) non-compliant with workplace laws.

It also found that 22 had failed to pay lawful wages in addition to failing to provide proper pay slips.

The regulator subsequently recovered a total of $78,944 in unpaid wages for 230 workers.

They included:

  • $22,216 for nine workers at two Gold Coast stores;
  • $20,890 for 10 workers in three stores in Adelaide;
  • $10,927 for 53 workers in five Sydney stores plus the manufacturing site;
  • $9,899 for 41 workers in four Melbourne stores;
  • $10,505 for 71 workers in eight Brisbane stores;
  • $2,385 for 34 workers in three Canberra stores; and
  • $2,122 for 12 workers at one store in Wollongong.

Penalties

Inspectors took various enforcement action as a result of the audits, for example, they issued:

  • 15 Compliance Notices requiring employers to back-pay 164 staff a total of $25,674; and
  • 7 Infringement Notices resulting in payments of fines totalling $11,760.

These businesses were put on notice that any future breaches will result in stronger enforcement action.

Six Soul Origin outlets remain under investigation.

Non-compliance ‘disappointing’

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker described the non-compliance rate as “disappointing”.

“The FWO’s findings across the Soul Origin network should serve as a reminder to all employers within franchise networks that if they don’t prioritise compliance with workplace laws significant numbers of workers can be underpaid.”

Wage theft rife

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from My Private Union says wage theft in rife in many industries.

“Despite increased enforcement by Fair Work, and some very public cases, wage theft continues to be a systemic problem in Australia,” he said.

“It’s time for national laws to make wage theft a crime, because until we do, greedy bosses will continue to steal wages from their workers.”


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1300 056 978

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