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Franchise owners charged penalties

The Fair Work Ombudsman has ordered a 7-Eleven franchise in Melbourne to pay penalties for underpaying Chinese workers.

According to the Fair Work website, the Federal Circuit Court penalised Xia Jing Qi Pty Ltd who was in charge of the 7-Eleven until March 2017.

Following legal action taken early in 2018, Xia Jing Qi Pty Ltd was charged $154,225 for forcing three international students to pay back of their wages as part of an illegal cashback scheme.

Former manager Ai Ling Lin was also fined $9,590 for her involvement in the 7-Eleven convenience breaches, along with the companies director Jing Qi Xia who was penalised $26,049 for her involvement in restaurant breaches.

Fair Work said: “The three workers underpaid at the 7-Eleven store were from China and aged between 21 and 24 while employed with the company. Ms Lin, from Taiwan, was also in Australia on a student visa”.

“Following public exposure of 7-Eleven underpayments in 2015, the company and Ms Lin tried to disguise underpayments of three employees by requiring them to pay back thousands of dollars in wages,” it said.

“Ms Lin told the three employees in late 2015 they would be paid through the payroll system but then specified a weekly sum for each of the workers to pay back via a safe drop box in the 7-Eleven store or to Ms Lin’s bank account.

“The three employees were underpaid a total of $6,674 for various periods of work between November 2015 and October 2016. They were back-paid in August 2017.”

Judge Norah Hartnett said the cashback scheme involved deception of the 7-Eleven head office and “circumvented attempts by head office to stamp out the underpayment of employees”.

“The Court recognises that conduct such as implementing a system requiring employees to repay wages they are owed, and making, keeping and producing false records to disguise employees’ true employment situation, is reprehensible conduct and denies to all employees the minimum wage standards that they, in Australia, should expect and are entitled to,” Judge Hartnett said.

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