Why Working At Subway Is Now Even Worse Than Before

With over 42,000 locations in 100 countries as of 2020, Subway is one of the biggest fast food chains in the world (via Insider). That means wherever you are, there's a good chance that in a sandwich-craving pinch, you can count on Subway. However, the footlong purveyor has been looking more like a sinking ship than a global phenomenon lately. CNN notes they've been closing locations since 2016, and alongside the company's dwindling presence, shady operations are constantly coming to light. For customers, there's the alarming reveal that the whole "Eat Fresh" motto is an empty promise, thanks to decidedly un-fresh ingredients. What's even more unsettling is how badly employees and franchisees are treated by Subway's corporate headquarters, where decisions are made affecting the franchisees who own and operate most of the chain's locations.

First of all, CNN revealed that Subway holds the dishonorable distinction in fast food of paying employees least — the US Department of Labor has conducted 1,100 separate investigations into different locations. Anonymous GlassDoor reviews from employees, too, reveal unfair practices like rounding down on employees' weekly hours. Employee pay and treatment stems from the franchise owners and how much they can afford as well as their management practices from corporate. That's where even more upsetting news has been uncovered, like when franchise owners unsuccessfully requested that Subway nix hot melted sandwiches because employees could get burned during the unsafe prep process (via The Takeout). Now, more recent grievances have come to light.

Close your Subway location more than once a year, and lose it

There are already plenty of difficulties for Subway franchisees to deal with. They've never been able to make money off of Subway's famed $5 footlong deal, reports Restaurant Business. On top of that, the Connecticut-based company demands higher royalties from its franchisees than other chains. According to The Takeout, comparable chains charge franchise owners 5% to 6.5% in royalties, while Subway charges 8%, and recently upped that to 10% unless franchisees agree to unfair conditions like signing a non-disparagement clause and losing control over their store hours.

On June 7, 2021, The New York Post reported that yet another condition has been added to the list: if franchisees close their locations more than one day out of the entire year, barring an "act of God," Subway could actually seize their locations back. Cornell Law School defines the use of "act of God" in contracts and rulings like this as "an overwhelming event caused exclusively by natural forces whose effects could not possibly be prevented (e.g., flood, earthquake, tornado)." What this means is that dangerous blizzards could hit the town of your Subway location again and again all winter, but if you decide more than once to not make your employees risk their lives to get to work, you could lose your business. If franchisees don't agree to this condition as part of their 20-year contracts, they must choose the 10% royalty rate, which, according to The Takeout, has some owners walking away from Subway.