Bakers Delight warned to stamp out worker abuse

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Bakers Delight warned to stamp out worker abuse

The Workplace Ombudsman has warned franchise companies such as Bakers Delight that they must do more than just 'advise' their franchisees to treat workers fairly and comply with workplace law.

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The Workplace Ombudsman has warned franchise companies such as Bakers Delight that they must do more than just 'advise' their franchisees to treat workers fairly and comply with workplace law.

Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson, said franchise companies must also 'assist their franchisees to be aware of and to meet their workers lawful rights and entitlements.'

Do the right thing

Wilson was responding to a call by the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) for its members to do the right thing in their workplaces.

The statement by the FCA follows reports last week that a Bakers Delight franchisee at Kareela in Sydney had told workers as young as 15 that they had to arrange for their own replacements if they were sick or they would be sacked. The franchisee was later disciplined by Bakers Delight head office.

'Motherhood' statements not enough

'Franchisors and business associations need to do more than make general "motherhood" statements to their members about worker entitlements,' Wilson said. 'They should recognise that their franchisees may be inexperienced or unsophisticated business people who may not be aware of their obligations to their workers and require accessible and practical information and resources to assist them in complying with workplace law.

'They should also make compliance with workplace law a clear expectation of those who become franchisees.'

Bakers Delight investigations

Wilson said the Workplace Ombudsman has finalised investigations into alleged breaches of workplace laws such including claims of underpayment of entitlements by Bakers Delight franchises across Australia in 2006 and in the first half of 2007.

In 2006 the Workplace Ombudsman finalised investigations into seven separate Bakers Delight franchises in Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

In 2007 investigations were finalised into eleven separate Bakers Delight franchises in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

Take responsibility

'It is about time Bakers Delight Holdings took some responsibility for their franchisees awareness of their obligations to their workers under workplace law,' Wilson said. 'We are happy to work with Bakers Delight Holdings to assist them to achieve this outcome.

'The Workplace Ombudsman recognises the contribution that franchise businesses make to the Australian economy, but insists that meeting worker's legal rights and entitlements is not an obstacle to either a profitable business or a prosperous economy.'

Legal obligations

He said the Workplace Ombudsman would be happy to work with organisations like the FCA and any other business associations to help them ensure that their members understand their legal obligations to their workers so these businesses can meet the community's reasonable expectation that franchise and other business people will respect their workers and observe their rights and entitlements in the workplace.

'While most business people comply with workplace law, the Workplace Ombudsman will relentlessly pursue the minority of business people who do not understand or wilfully ignore the fact that meeting their workers entitlements is central to running to a business,' Wilson said. 'We will recover monies owed to workers and potentially prosecute breaches of workplace law.'

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