Lovisa accused of 'bullying' and 'demoralising' former employees

Among the accusations former employees say they were only paid in store gift cards for additional hours and were denied toilet breaks.

Former employees of Lovisa have shared their experiences of being "absolutely miserable" pending possible legal action against the popular Australian jewellery company over allegations of work rights violations.

The retailer may face a class action suit launched by legal firm Adero which is investigating allegations of mistreatment and underpayment. Adero says it is aware staff at certain stores:

  • were directed to not take meal and toilet breaks

  • were directed to work before and after rostered shifts without compensation

  • worked over the festive period without being compensated appropriate overtime rates.

The firm says it may pursue a class action against Lovisa and seek that compensation be paid to any employee whose entitlements were not paid in full.

Former employees at Lovisa have shared what their experience was. Left, Shannen Vonmunster.
Shannen Vonmunster (left) and Taylah Davidson (right) shared their experiences of what it was like to work at Lovisa. Source: Supplied

Former employees speak out

Shannen Vonmunster worked as a retail assistant throughout 2013 at an Adelaide store and claims she frequently performed stock takes from 6am to 9am but wasn't properly compensated.

“We were paid in Lovisa gift cards instead of actual money, and it was a $50 gift card for three hours of work," she told Yahoo News Australia. “I don't need more garbage jewellery, I need to put fuel in my car."

Another former employee Taylah Davidson worked the same stock take hours at her store in Albury, NSW between 2020 and 2021 and allegedly wasn't paid at all.

“I was desperate to have a job at that time," she told Yahoo News.

The claims of improper payment are in stark contrast to Lovisa CEO Victor Herrero whose remuneration for the last financial year was reportedly more than $29 million.

Management accused of ignoring 'bullying' accusations

Lovisa management was described as "toxic" by the two former workers, with Ms Davidson claiming "pedantic higher-ups" would constantly be contacting the in-store team.

“The pressure to meet the unrealistic targets was definitely a huge one, the regional manager would call during the shift and give you a rousing if you weren't meeting those targets," she claimed.

Lovisa store front can be seen.
The Australian brand operates in over 30 countries throughout Asia-Pacific and Europe as well as the US and South Africa. Source: Lovisa

Ms Vonmunster's in-store experience was also "horrible" and she was forced to submit a formal complaint to her regional manager after an extended period of being "bullied" by her store manager.

"I have a history of like mental illness ... She would say just really awful things about it," she said. "She would pick on just the most insignificant things like the nature of my sweater being too thick. They were really personal comments ... it was demoralising."

"I kept a diary in my phone with dates and times of incidents. The regional manager said they would look into it at the time, but the high staff turnover meant she was gone within the next fortnight, so nothing happened," she said.

'Don't drink water'

Ms Vonmunster also claims management told her to avoid drinking water during the shift as she was not permitted to take toilet breaks.

“It was pretty regular that only one person would be rostered on at a time ... You can't close the store during opening hours. Not even to go to the bathroom. So that was our bathroom privileges revoked, basically," she said.

Both former employees said they frequently cried due to the work conditions they experienced while "just trying to make ends meet."

"I'll never f***ing work there again," Ms Davidson said.

Lovisa has over 700 stores across 30 countries, including New Zealand, Singapore and the UK.

Workers' rights breaches found in Lovisa New Zealand stores

In New Zealand, where there are 26 Lovisa stores, a similar investigation commenced in March, 2021 and was carried out by the Labour Inspectorate. The nine-month government probe found a number of breaches, including incorrect use of staff's annual leave on public holidays and incorrect calculations in sick leave.

Improvement notices were issued to remedy the breaches and the staff impacted were paid in arrears, with compliance reportedly confirmed in October 2022, Stuff reported.

“There were also allegations concerning rest and meal breaks, however there was insufficient evidence to find breaches. It was recommended that the company improve systems and practices around the provision of rest and meal breaks," Labour Inspectorate's Head of Compliance and Enforcement Simon Humphries said.

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