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HR headlines this week: KFC class action, invisible costs of WFH, and pay transparency

By Nick Wilson | |7 minute read

There has been a lot going on in HR news this week. From the wage theft class action against KFC to unexpected WFH costs and growing concerns around pay transparency legislation – there is no shortage of concerning fresh takes.

Alleged KFC wage theft ‘disturbing and unacceptable’

This week, retail, warehousing, and fast-food union SDA commenced a wage theft class action against KFC. The news comes after Shine Lawyers, in conjunction with the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), launched their own investigation.


Allegedly, KFC and its franchisees failed to offer tens of thousands of employees a paid 10-minute break when working shifts longer than four hours as mandated under the relevant enterprise agreements.

As noted in a recent Lawyers Weekly article, Josh Cullinan, Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) secretary, said the “missing ingredient” in KFC’s recipe was rest. Mr Cullinan called it “unacceptable that a global franchise has had complete disregard to the welfare of its workers”.

“The claims that tens of thousands of workers have been underpaid by a company the size of KFC is disturbing and unacceptable,” said SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer.

“We owe it to our members and all workers in the fast-food and retail industries to put an end to systemic wage theft for good.”

For more on new federal wage theft legislation, read here.

Employees resent the added costs of WFH

When making the case for hybrid work arrangements, many point to the potential savings on things like transport, childcare, lunches, and formalwear. That said, a recent McCrindle survey reported on by ABC News found that the costs of working from home are nothing to sneeze at.

According to the survey, 53 per cent of Australian workers believe they are incurring costs when they work from home that would be covered by their employers if working in office. Specifically:

  • Thirty per cent spent more on office supplies and technology.
  • Twenty-five per cent incurred higher electricity bills.
  • Sixteen per cent noticed an increase in food consumption and home goods.

Concerningly, principal social researcher Mark McCrindle said the additional costs are causing many workers to feel resentful.

“This resentment is embedded in the fact that workers are paying for costs and other work-related expenses that would have otherwise been covered by their employer,” said Mr McCrindle.

While many of the added expenses can be claimed back on tax, certain expenses are more difficult to claim than others, and some workers might feel uneasy about asking for reimbursement from an employer.

“They may be too small, or hard to itemise to include on a tax return, and too menial to ask their employer to pay for them, so the costs are being footed by the employee.”

The problem with pay transparency

New pay transparency laws have been causing headaches for employers and employees alike. Many job candidates have been frustrated by a trend among employers to advertise a certain pay range with no apparent intention of paying anything towards the upper end of the range, reported BBC Worklife.

On the other hand, some recruiters claim the frustration comes from a fundamental misunderstanding on the candidate’s side as to what a pay range really represents.

The push for pay transparency laws has been near universal in recent years. Since 2020, seven US states have enacted such laws while, as of June this year, pay secrecy terms are no longer welcome in Australian employment contracts.

On the jobseeker side, broader pay transparency can help streamline the job-hunting process. Often, said BBC Worklife, candidates are being asked to sit through multiple rounds of interviews before salary is even broached.

Employers, however, are worried that the requirements might make it harder to stay competitive when it comes to recruitment. Not only could it become harder for businesses with smaller budgets to attract top talent, but it could also erode employer flexibility in contract negotiations.

It is against this backdrop that the pay range controversy emerged. Many employers, the article said, are exploiting pay transparency legislation through inconsistent disclosures and overly broad salary ranges. Reportedly, others still are advertising a certain pay range, only to drop the figure at the interview stage.

“Candidates are angry. Recruiters say they are merely following standard practice,” the article said.

Some recruiters claim that candidates are simply misunderstanding the true meaning of a salary range. For instance, there is a difference between a pay scale and a hiring range for any given position. The former represents projected earnings across the duration of a given role, while the latter determines what might be offered at the hiring stage.

“For jobseekers seeing salaries communicated for the first time … there is a learning curve,” commented recruiting manager Bonnie Dilper.



Compensation is a term used to describe a monetary payment made to a person in return for their services. Employees get pay in their places of employment. It includes income or earnings, commision, as well as any bonuses or benefits that are connected to the particular employee's employment.

Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.


The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson is a journalist with HR Leader. With a background in environmental law and communications consultancy, Nick has a passion for language and fact-driven storytelling.