Muffin Break chief rejects ‘work for free’ claims after social media storm

By Sarah Stowe | 25 Feb 2019 View comments

Muffin Break GM Natalie Brennan has rejected claims she expects employees to work for free, after a social media storm erupted over comments made in an article on news.com.au.

The backlash focused on comments Brennan made suggesting the younger generation is disinterested in taking on internships or work experience.

In the article Brennan said ‘“There’s just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody.”

The riposte from social media was strong, with a host of Tweets about working for free.

The article on jobs and careers not only sparked a flurry of comments on social media but caused the journalist to write an opinion piece on the topic, concluding “The point is, feel free to be outraged about what Ms Brennan said — but not what she didn’t say.”

He points out, “It’s important to clarify that Ms Brennan was talking about head office-type roles like marketing and middle management. She wasn’t suggesting cashiers or baristas should be working for free.”

Responding to the social media comments, Brennan rejected claims she was suggesting any employees should be unpaid.

“The recent article does not reflect my values or those of Foodco. Every day for the last 25 years I’ve worked with young people who are motivated, passionate and hard-working. This is as true today as it was when I started my career.

“I don’t expect anyone to work unpaid and Foodco Group policy is, and has always been, that all employees including interns, employed either directly or through our brands are paid according to relevant awards.

“The unpaid work I referred to was supervised programs run through schools, TAFEs or universities, which provide valuable gained experience to people before they enter the workforce full-time. I want to apologise for any misunderstanding or upset caused by my comments.”

In the news.com.au article Brennan was critical of  younger workers with a sense of entitlement.

“I think everybody thinks social media is going to get them ahead somewhere,” she said. “There’s definitely that inflated view of their self-importance because they have X amount of Instagram followers or this many likes. That’s dangerous,” she told news.com.au.

Among the negative social media posts there was some outright support for Brennan’s comments.

Frank Chung, the writer of the original article shared in his opinion piece that a number of employers privately endorse the views held by Brennan.

He quoted one unnamed source: “The change in young people’s attitudes over time and their sense of expectation is extraordinary. Instagram followers do not = CEO. It really is time that they are called out on their unrealistic expectations both salary and workplace.”