A barman makes espresso coffee during the Massimo Zanetti Beverage group's shares debut at the Milan's Stock Exchange, Italy, June 3, 2015. Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue has partnered with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to make a public commitment to ensure workplace compliance. Foodco Group Pty Ltd, owner the two franchise stores, signed a Proactive Compliance Deed that would complement the company's current internal focus and audit programs.

Foodco committed for two years that it would undertake a self-audit of its compliance with workplace laws, and it would report the results to the Fair Work Ombudsman. The two-year deed would cover about 3,000 workers through its franchisees. There are 212 Muffin Break and 126 Jamaica Blue sites across the country. Most of the stores are operated by franchisees.

The company made the approach to enter the compliance deed in 2016 after receiving an invitation from Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell. The deputy encouraged a number of council members to consider compliance partnerships with the ombudsman.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James commended Foodco for its commitment to set a standard in ensuring that its extensive network met the obligations under workplace laws. James said that the company approached FWO seeking assistance and advice on the ways to prevent workforce exploitation rather than reacting to issues that affect the company. She said that the action took by the company showed its commitment to the workers, shareholders and customers and its belief in the Australia's workplace law.

The compliance deed covers different areas that would require the company to provided system and process details to the ombudsman and to assist franchisees to be compliant. Based on the deed, the company should communicate the existence of the deed to its employees, franchisees and their employees. The company should encourage its franchisees and managers to undertake the FWO online learning modules with topics including hiring employees, managing performance and difficult conversations in the workplace. It should also provide FWO the workplace relations training details provided by the company to their franchisees and managers. The deed required the business to register with the website to receive easy-to-access updates on workplace law.

The deed included the right process when fulfilling routine enquiries and requests for assistance received by FWO. According to the deed, any routine enquiries or requests for assistance involving Foodco and its franchisees, the Foodco should take the resolution in the first instance even FWO received it. However, Foodco should provide a report with evidence if the problem was resolved. A report is also required for unresolved problems.

In 2016, Muffin Break franchise outlet in Hobart was reported to underpay two Chinese workers at $11 an hour. Based on the investigation of the Fair Work Ombudsman, a total to more than $46,000 underpayments was recorded.