Juice chain pressing former workers into superannuation disputes

Published 05 Dec 2018

Every worker in Australia, regardless of salary, background or sector, is guaranteed the right to fair payment and for employers to contribute towards their personal superannuation plan.

However, hospitality chain Pressed Juices has been publicly outed recently for failing to pay wages and superannuation contributions, leading to dozens of former employees demonstrating in Melbourne city centre in August. What are some of the accusations and how will this superannuation dispute be resolved?

Background of the case

Coverage from Junkee Media suggests this problem has been ongoing for staff in both Victoria and NSW branches of the juice chain since at least 2015. Reports indicate that Pressed Juices' contributions into employees' superannuation schemes were delayed by months or even skipped entirely for significant periods. Certain staff members never even had superannuation accounts set up once starting work for the company.

Workers across the company's multiple branches attempted to contact the CEO, Leo Pegoli, and other senior business operators via email and phone on numerous occasions about the issue. Each time, they were told payments were delayed due to cashflow issues, with many higher-ups in Pressed Juices claiming this stemmed from waiting on a government grant.

Complications in tracking superannuation contributions

To further the complexity of the multiple disputes arising from this issue, employees saw superannuation contributions reflected in their payslip, despite the company not actually paying them out to individuals' plans.

Additionally, senior operators at Pressed Juices Ltd were constantly transferring workers between liquidated business entities and new enterprises. This ensured that the business could default on old debts accrued, but also made it very difficult for staff members to track down a history of superannuation contributions as the company name changed numerous times. Employees were told this switch between corporate entities would have no affect on holiday payments and superannuation plans, and that all existing finances accrued would be transferred over.

How can this superannuation dispute be resolved?

A number of Pressed Juice stores in NSW have opened and closed since the company's beginnings in 2013. This has left dozens of former employees adrift without wages paid out and with thousands or tens of thousands owed in superannuation payments. In most cases, these employees will have to take private legal action against the business.

If you've been involved in a superannuation dispute and think you may be owed unpaid contributions, or you want to make a another claim, reach out the Gerard Malouf & Partners team today for our expert opinion.

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