Costa Coffee is launching an independent audit of its franchise partners following an investigation by the BBC News into alleged poor working conditions at franchised stores.
BBC News has reported claims this week outlining allegations of poor working conditions made by individuals working in franchised stores owned by Goldex Essex Investments and Bristal Investments.
Employees of Bristal Investments said they had been told to work outside of contracted hours and had not received tips. Goldex Essex staff claimed the company had refused to pay for sick or annual leave, with one former manager telling the BBC News that staff would be fined £150 if the store was opened late or deliveries missed with other financial penalties incurred if tills were found to be short or wastage deemed ‘excessive’.
A Costa Coffee spokesperson said: “Following several allegations relating to unethical behaviour, we are investigating these matters with those specific partners.
“Given the serious nature of the allegations, we have today informed all of our individual franchise partners that we will be launching an independent audit into the legal and ethical compliance of their operations, including employment matters.
“We take any allegations of this nature very seriously and would like to reassure team members and customers that we will not tolerate illegal and unethical behaviour in any circumstances under the Costa Coffee brand.”
Kafeel Khan of Goldex Essex Investments told BBC News he found the claims “extremely upsetting” and invited staff to report any incidents, while Emilio Aleo of Bristal Investments said he “fully [complies] with [his] statutory obligations”.
Hospitality company Whitbread sold the coffee chain, which operates more than 2,400 outlets in the UK, to the Coca-Cola Company for £3.9b earlier this year.