Wages recovered for 214 Sandwich Chefs workers

8 March 2022

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $182,596 in unpaid wages for 214 workers after it investigated outlets of the Sandwich Chefs deli carvery franchise across four states. 

Fair Work Inspectors investigated 39 franchisee businesses in Victoria (18), NSW (8), South Australia (7) and Queensland (6) during 2020 and 2021, after significant underpayments and record-keeping breaches were found at two Geelong Sandwich Chefs stores during separate earlier proactive audits.

Inspectors interviewed employees, managers and employers and checked records and payslips. 

The regulator found that 32 of the 39 outlets (82 per cent) were non-compliant with workplace laws. Of these, 28 underpaid employees and 16 had breached record-keeping and payslip obligations. The most common breaches found were underpayment of the minimum hourly pay rate (16 businesses), failure to pay weekend penalty rates (10 businesses) and failure to make and keep employee records (10 businesses). 

In total, $98,912 was recovered for 118 Victorian workers from 12 businesses, $34,189 was recovered for 32 NSW workers from six businesses, $28,989 was recovered for 28 Queensland workers from five businesses, and $20,506 was recovered for 36 South Australian workers from three businesses. 

Recoveries from individual businesses ranged from $165 for four employees at an Adelaide store to $27,807 for 18 employees of a Melbourne business. 

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said the high rate of breaches was disappointing. 

“Sandwich Chefs unfortunately is another franchise in the fast food, restaurant and cafés sector where we have found high rates of non-compliance spreading across multiple states. Employers can’t pick and choose which wage laws they follow and those doing the wrong thing are being found out,” Ms Hannah said. 

“Improving compliance among franchises and in the food sector are ongoing priorities for the Fair Work Ombudsman, as is protecting vulnerable young workers who can often be the ones cooking and serving the meals.”

“We expect all employers in franchise networks to meet their obligations, and there has never been more free tools and resources available to help them get it right. Any workers with wages concerns should also contact us.”

In response to the breaches, inspectors issued 32 Compliance Notices to 26 businesses, recovering $182,596. There were also 18 Infringement Notices issued for record-keeping and pay slips breaches, resulting in $15,330 in fines paid, and three contravention letters and two formal cautions. 

Non-compliant businesses were put on notice that future breaches could lead to higher-level enforcement action. 

Targeted advice and resources for franchisors and franchisees, including online learning courses and in-language videos, are available for free at www.fairwork.gov.au/franchises. Resources for the fast food, restaurant and café sector are at www.fairwork.gov.au/frac

Call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or a free interpreter service on 13 14 50. Know a workplace not doing the right thing but don’t want to get involved? Report it anonymously – in your language.

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Media inquiries:

Matthew Raggatt, Media Director (A/g)
Mobile: 0466 470 507