Grill’d agrees to review pay rates

Screen-Shot-2015-07-23-at-4.01.11-PMGourmet burger chain Grill’d has admitted to underpaying young staff by using traineeships and outdated employment agreements but insist that they have done nothing illegal.

Speaking to 3AW this morning, CEO and founder of the multi-million dollar franchise Simon Crowe said the company needs to “review the terms and conditions” of their employment agreements.

“Legally everyone is in total agreement we have not done anything inappropriate in this regard.

“We want to make sure we are an employer of choice always and we also want to make sure we do the right thing,” Mr Crowe told Neil Mitchell.

Mr Crowe’s concession came a week after a dispute with former Grill’d employee Kahlani Pyrah, who claimed she lost her job after confronting her boss about pay rates.

Ms Pyrah set up an online petition asking for signatures to get her job back. It has since received 22,500 signatures out of a target of 25,000.

In a statement on the Grill’d website, the company claimed they have been unfairly “scrutinised over workplace agreements that were independently certified and approved” and suggested that “many of the claims publicised have been factually incorrect”.

No examples of incorrect statements were provided.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission approved Grill’d’s original workplace agreements in 2005 when the company was launched.

Employee wages differ greatly depending on age and employee status.

Variations in Grill’d employee wages

Variations in Grill’d employee wages

According to Mr Crowe’s statement on the Grill’d website, the traineeship program helps the “development of teamwork and leadership skills”.

Twenty-year-old Jack Marquardt has worked at Grill’d since December 2013. “We had to do [the training program], it wasn’t a choice,” he told City Journal.

Mr Marquardt is paid $14.10 per hour with no penalty rates or overtime. According to Grill’d’s pay agreements he should be paid $23 per hour because he qualifies for the adult wage.

“I have been signed up to two different training programs – both Certificate III in hospitality – but beyond that I have not done any training for the certificates.”

Mr Marquardt said the training programs are completed in the first eight to 12 months of an employee’s start date, meaning pay rates are below the minimum wage for these months.

Grill’d’s wage agreements illustrate the inconsistent pay rates found in many other hospitality and retail workplaces that employ young workers.

Eighteen-year-old Bakers Delight workers, for example, are paid a flat rate of $14 per hour, yet a similar employee at Boost Juice is paid a flat rate $17 per hour. Both jobs include employee benefits such as overtime and higher weekend rates.

Photo credit: Alpha (Flickr)

This article was originally published on The City Journal, 23/7/2015

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