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The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recovered $78,944 in unpaid wages for 230 workers following an investigation into 39 stores and a manufacturing site for salad, sandwich and coffee franchise Soul Origin across Australia.

Fair Work Inspectors made surprise visits to 38 Soul Origin stores in Canberra, Sydney, Wollongong, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Adelaide and Melbourne, and audited another store operated by the franchisor and its Sydney based manufacturing site, in September last year. This followed multiple enquiries and anonymous reports from workers about potential breaches of workplace laws.

The franchisor operated two of the stores audited, with franchisees operating the remaining 37.

Inspectors interviewed employees, managers and store owners and checked records and pay slips. Records were assessed for compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 or the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010, as applicable.

The FWO found that of the sites assessed 33 (83 per cent) were non-compliant with workplace laws. Of these non-compliant sites, 22 had both failed to correctly pay workers and to meet legally mandated pay slip and record-keeping requirements.

In total, the FWO recovered $22,216 for nine workers at two Gold Coast stores; $20,890 for 10 workers in three stores in Adelaide; $10,927 for 53 workers in five Sydney stores plus the manufacturing site; $9,899 for 41 workers in four Melbourne stores; $10,505 for 71 workers in eight Brisbane stores; $2,385 for 34 workers in three Canberra stores; and $2,122 for 12 workers at one store in Wollongong.