In late 2019, it was revealed that burger chain Grill’d was using dodgy traineeships to pay young workers less than the minimum wage.
Grill’d is a massive fastfood franchise, worth almost $400 million.
Using dodgy traineeships is a common tactic in the hospo and fastfood industries, especially for larger franchise companies.
Worker Patrick Stephenson, who said he had been a Grill’d employee for nearly two years, said he had been paid a “pitiful wage” while on a hospitality traineeship through one of the chain’s Melbourne outlets.
“I haven’t progressed through the traineeship, as much as I’ve tried to,” he said.
“To me, after the two years and after the progress that I’ve made, it became clear to me that Grill’d was just keeping me on the traineeship so that they didn’t have to pay me the minimum award wage.”
Under the company’s 2015 enterprise agreement (EA), a full-time or part-time employee aged 21 or over is paid $21.75 per hour.
However, the United Workers Union (UWU), Young Workers Centre (YWC) and Grill’d employees alleged many of the workers were pressured into signing onto traineeships that cut their rate of pay by more than $3 per hour.
A school leaver on a hospitality traineeship would be paid $14.50 per hour, a rate that is bumped up to $18.50 for those on traineeships who have been out of school for three or more years.ABC News 7 December 2019
How does the dodgy traineeship scam work?
Firstly, the boss says you need to sign up for a traineeship when you start your job. It’s typically a Cert III in Hospitality, and is often provided by a training company associated with (or owned) by the company. Generally, you won’t get a choice about this (e.g. if you don’t sign up, you’re not offered the job.)
Secondly, the boss has a dodgy enterprise agreement (which was not negotiated with a union) that creates a “trainee wage” that is below the minimum wage. (Read here for more on the minimum wage.) For example, the dodgy Grill’d enterprise agreement paid trainees a flat $18.50 per hour, instead of the $19.49 per hour (or $24.36 for casuals).
Thirdly, the boss never gives you time to complete your training, so you remain a trainee for the entire time you work at the venue.
Finally, the boss gets a subsidy from the Federal Govt. for putting you on the bogus traineeship. This means they make more profits from underpaying you, and also additional profits from a government fee.
Do you think you’re on a bogus traineeship? Get in touch with us today.