Don’t get Grill’d over your traineeship agreements
Grill’d, the popular fast food burger chain was recently in the media over allegations by the Young Worker’s Centre (YWC) of Victoria that Grill’d is prolonging it’s traineeships as a way to reduce their employees’ hourly wage.
YWC made the allegation on behalf of a current Grill’d employee.
Following the allegations, the founder of Grill’d, Simon Crowe, released a statement (that can be found on their website) standing behind the company’s practices.
What is a traineeship?
A traineeship is a program provided by an employer to employees to learn on-the-job skills related to the industry the employee is employed in. At the completion of a traineeship, the employee will earn a certificate in the relevant area.
The time to complete a traineeship varies depending on the classification of the employee.
Part-time Grill’d employees, according to Crowe, generally complete the traineeship within 12 to 18 months and upon completion, the employee earns a Certificate III in Hospitality.
Did Grill’d pay their employees less?
When employed as a trainee, an employee will be paid the trainee rate as provided for in the relevant award or enterprise agreement. Each award or enterprise agreement sets out how to calculate the rate of pay for the different classes of employees. For example, a casual employee’s rate of pay is calculated differently than a full-time employee.
Once an employee completes a traineeship, the employee’s rate of pay is adjusted in accordance with their level of training (e.g. completion of a certification III) and type of employment (e.g. casual or full-time).
In the case of Grill’d, the concern relating to the rate of pay is that Grill’d, in the opinion of the employee, is prolonging the traineeship in order to continue to pay the trainee wage (which is $X less than the wage they will receive upon completion of the traineeship).
Crowe, in his online statement, disputes that allegation and states that the company invited 366 employees to a ‘fast tracked program in August 2016 with the express purpose of bringing these traineeships to completion’.
Is the issue resolved?
According to Crowe, the two parties did meet following the allegations being made public and discussed the employee’s grievances. Crowe states that the two parties have reached a positive resolution.
This incident comes as a timely reminder for employers to regularly consult with employees to identify issues which could intensify or grow if left unresolved.
Employers should familiarise themselves with the minimum employment standards set out in the National Employment Standard (NES) and the relevant award or enterprise agreement. These documents explain what is allowed and include what the minimum rate of pay is.
You can locate this information and other helpful resources on Australia’s Fair Work website (www.fairwork.gov.au). The site even includes a pay calculator.
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