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La Porchetta Franchising Pty Ltd [ACN 146 228 471] (La Porchetta) is a restaurant franchise business.

Since its establishment in Victoria in 1985, La Porchetta has grown to become one of the largest ‘Italian restaurant’ chains across Australia and New Zealand, with 49 restaurants. At the time of this Report’s publication, in Australia, La Porchetta operates 41 restaurants in Victoria, three in New South Wales and two in Queensland. La Porchetta employs approximately 700 employees in Australia.

La Porchetta is a family-operated private company with Ms Sara Pantaleo in the role of Chief Executive Officer and Director. Ms Pantaleo has been the Director of the La Porchetta franchise network since 2010. The business has grown significantly since this time, including expanding into New Zealand. Ms Pantaleo is also a former Telstra Business Woman of the year, Franchise Woman of the year and is on the National Board of Directors of the Franchise Council of Australia.

La Porchetta’s head office took a proactive approach to implement initiatives previously lacking in the franchise network, including obtaining support from the legal firm, HR Legal, on workplace relations obligations and responsibilities. Ms. Palanteo was also eager to enter into a Compliance Partnership with the FWO to ensure compliance with workplace laws and protect the business’ brand.

In 2013, the FWO publicly disclosed significant non-compliance at two franchise stores (Berwick and Pakenham, both in Melbourne) following requests for assistance from employees concerned they were not being paid correctly for shift and weekend work. A relatively small number of requests for assistance had also been received by the FWO in relation to other stores across the network prior to this investigation.

FWO’s investigation into these two stores found 111 (mostly teenage employees) had been underpaid a total of $258 019 between 2009 and 2012. In some cases, young workers received pizza and drinks as compensation for wages1.

The investigation findings resulted in the FWO seeking financial penalties and commenced legal proceedings against two La Porchetta franchisees; Bound for Glory Pty Ltd [ACN 100 518 438] (the Berwick store) and Zillion Zenith Pty Ltd [ACN 109 501 868], as well as the Director of both companies, Mr. Ruby Chand2.

The Federal Circuit Court issued a penalty against each business (Bound for Glory Pty Ltd and Zillion Zenith Pty Ltd) of $139 507.50 each, while the Director of the businesses, Mr. Ruby Chand, was also fined a total of $55 8033.

Following the Court’s judgement, the FWO approached La Porchetta (as the franchisor) to discuss entering into a formal Compliance Partnership where the FWO could assist La Porchetta in establishing sustainable self-monitoring arrangements in order to ensure compliance within its service network.

La Porchetta recognised compliance was a key issue of concern in a network where 20% of its employees in Australia were young workers aged 18 – 24; often working casual shifts while they are studying, some engaged as trainees and apprentices.

  1. FWO media release, 3 July 2013
  2. See FWO v Bound for Glory Enterprises & Anor [2014] FCCA 432 external-icon.png and FWO v Zillion Zenith Pty Ltd & Anor [2014] FCC 433 external-icon.png
  3. FWO media release following court decision, 10 June 2014