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Don’t get Grill’d for your working conditions


Burger chain Grill’d is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.It started when an employee claimed she was fired for questioning her employment contract. The contract reportedly paid below-award wages, with no penalty rates or overtime.

Right now the case is being reviewed by a national workplace tribunal. And while the employee has been offered her job back, the PR fallout isn’t over yet.

It’s a powerful lesson in how underpaying staff can backfire.

Not all publicity is good publicity

There are often two sides to these stories. In this scenario, we’ve only heard from the employee. (Grill’d founder Simon Crowe has remained tight-lipped and refuses to face the media … ) But whatever happened behind the scenes, one thing is clear. Grill’d is dealing with a PR disaster.

Over 23,000 people have signed a petition demanding Grill’d pay workers award wages. Former employees have shared their own bad experiences on social media, and the story has been covered national media. It’s a bad result for Grill’d, no matter who’s in the wrong.

Why care?

You might think that the Grill’d example isn’t relevant to your business. How many small businesses end up on the front page of the newspaper for underpaying workers?

This doesn’t mean that small businesses can get away with dodgy work practices. Doing the wrong thing by staff can damage your reputation with the people who matter: customers and potential employees. Not to mention the legal risks.

The power of bad word of mouth

If you don’t look after your employees, they won’t stay for long. And when they leave, they’ll tell their friends. In sectors such as healthcare and childcare, your pool of potential employees is often drawn from a close-knit community. People talk. Do you want to be known as a bad employer? What impact would that reputation have on your ongoing efforts to attract the good staff? That’s not an easy label to shake off.

So whether it’s staying off the front page, or keeping your reputation as the preferred employer, doing the right thing by your staff makes sound long-term sense. Know the award wages, and the right conditions. The good reputation will follow.