7-Eleven operator faces court

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operator of two more 7-Eleven stores for allegedly underpaying staff tens of thousands of dollars.

The litigations take the number of 7-Eleven operators to face Court since 2009 to six. The latest matters to go before the Federal Circuit Court allege that two 7-Eleven outlets in the Brisbane CBD short-changed 21 employees more than $31,000.

Facing court is Jason Yuan, who operates stores at 231 George Street and 174 Adelaide Street and two companies he part owns, Vipper Pty Ltd and Viplus Pty Ltd. In its Statement of Claim, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleges 21 employees across the two stores were underpaid a total of $31,507 between September 2013 and September 2014.

The employees, including a number of international students, were allegedly paid flat rates as low as $17.74 an hour, resulting in significant underpayment of their penalty rates for shift, Saturday, public holiday, overtime and late night work.

Individual employees are allegedly owed amounts from $98 to $5080. The two stores were among those targeted by the Fair Work Ombudsman for surprise night time visits as part of a tri-State operation in September, 2014.

The Fair Work Ombudsman had previously advised Yuan in February, 2013 about his obligations to pay lawful minimum penalty rates. Yuan faces maximum penalties of up to $10,200 per breach. Vipper Pty Ltd and Viplus Pty Ltd each face penalties of up to $51,000 per contravention.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says 7-Eleven is the subject of a national Inquiry by the Fair Work Ombudsman into allegations of systemic underpayments and false record keeping practices. James said a final report is expected in the first quarter of this year.

Last month around 50 7-Eleven stores nationwide were visited by staff from the Fels Wage Fairness Panel as investigations first uncovered by a joint investigation by Four Corners and Fairfax Media last year continue into the underpayment of employees at the convenience store chain.

At the time the Wage Fairness Panel said teams from the independent panel were visiting selected stores around the country to collect information that will assist in determining cases of underpayment of former and current 7-Eleven staff and specific compensation amounts.

Earlier in December, 7-Eleven announced more than 90 per cent of stores had signed a new enterprise agreement, which includes a revised profit-sharing model between franchisees and head office, as well as increased compliance, governance and oversight initiatives.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on February 22.

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