Undercover staff spied on a Brisbane Coffee Club franchise to check if workers were being paid proper wages.
The Coffee Club Franchising Company took the extraordinary action.
They did it as a result of suspecting the owners of the store of repeatedly lying about alleged wage theft.
The parent company is suing the former owners of the franchise in the Brisbane District Court.
The are claiming $500,000 allegedly owed under a franchise agreement.
Undercover Coffee Club spies uncover ‘ghost’ employees
The CCFC accused the owners of Hamilton Harbour Coffee Club – Qihua Yang and Xiaona Yuan – of underpaying staff.
Additionally, they allege the business had a system of “ghost” employees who worked in the cafe but didn’t appear in employment records.
The cafe closed in December 2018, a year after Coffee Club headquarters claimed Yang and Yuan:
- provided false rosters and time sheets; and
- had back-dated other documents, to allegedly cover up wage theft involving three staff.
Additionally, it is alleged the workers received as little as $12 an hour and no overtime.
It is also alleged that the business failed to pay superannuation.
CCFC claims the former franchise only provided information of actual hours worked by employees after it revealed the secret spying operation.
Former owners deny claims and counter-sue
Yang and Yuan, and their company Huabei Pty Ltd, denies the claims.
Instead, they accuse the CCFC of allegedly misleading them with promises of a $200,000 gross profit in the first year.
Huabei alleges the CCFC failed to provide:
- training, support and ongoing assistance; and
- advice on how to run the business, as promised when they bought the franchise.
Consequently, Huabei filed a counter-claim for $468,619 for accumulated losses and a further $457,413 in franchise fees.
No court date for a hearing has been set.
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