LEGAL | Staff Reporter, Australia

Chatime responds to underpayment allegations

Read the chain's full statement here.

Bubble tea franchise Chatime has officially responded to earlier reports of alleged underpayment of staff amounting to $10 million owed to employees:

At Chatime we see our employees as family and recognise they are the key to our success. We strive to be an employer of choice and uphold our values of being a fair, open and transparent business playing by the rules and being a good corporate citizen.

We recognise that underpayments are a serious issue impacting the franchise industry. As a responsible employer in Australia, we are committed to paying our people correctly and if underpayments are identified, we are committed to rectifying those underpayments.

We are committed to operational excellence and recognise that in the past some of our business systems and payroll capabilities had not kept pace with the rapid growth of the Chatime Brand in Australia and the complexities of the Australian regulatory environment.

We have worked tirelessly over the past number of years to get it right and do what it is right. We have taken a number of proactive steps to work co-operatively and transparently with employees to remedy any concerns and we will unreservedly apologise if or when we get it wrong.

We have and continue to make significant improvement in people capabilities (internal and external), business/payroll systems, compliance, training and education to ensure full compliance at all times. From mandatory book keeping, outsourced payroll and many other aspects of the operational side of the business.

These are a few of the actions we have taken:

  • (a) rollout of a national roadshow to Chatime franchisees to educate them on and highlight the importance of ATO and Modern Award compliance;
  • (b) investment in strategic HR capabilities internally - including the recruitment of a dedicated human resources specialist in the role of Head of People and Culture
  • (c) appointment of the Deputy rostering, time and attendance system as Chatime’s franchisee compliance tool to give Chatime (as the franchisor) greater oversight over what occurs in our franchise network;
  • (d) engagement of external specialist workplace relations and legal support (including the NSW Business Chamber and Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors);
  • (e) rollout of a national roadshow to all Chatime franchisees in relation to the national rollout of Deputy as a mandatory time and attendance system from August 2017;
  • (f) updated the terms and conditions of employment (specifically rates of pay) for all fast food employees employed by Chatime to ensure Award compliance.

Chatime is one of the fastest growing franchise businesses in Australia over the last few years with 111 locations currently and growing. With another 40 forecasted for this calendar year and this is due to our investment in strategy and alignment across the business; leadership teams, people capability, with vast and extensive corporate experiences and technology systems that is enabling profitable models to enable all parties to do the right thing in serving the communities in which we serve.

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