7-Eleven has launched its internal Wage Repayment Program, three weeks after announcing plans to shut the Fels Wage Fairness Panel, set up following a Four Corners investigation that uncovered systemic wage fraud throughout the convenience chain.
In a statement issued on Friday afternoon announcing the program’s launch, the convenience chain said that under “a robust and efficient new process” the company is “confident that approved claims will be finalised quickly and appropriate payments made.”
The Wage Repayment Program is supported by an independent secretariat, managed by Deloitte, under strict protocols that ensure claimant confidentiality is maintained. 7-Eleven said it has also invited the Fair Work Ombudsman to review the program and progress of claim determinations at any time as part of its ongoing liaison.
7-Eleven CEO, Angus McKay, said: “7-Eleven took the Wage Repayment Program process in-house in order to deliver a robust and efficient process that puts money in the hands of aggrieved franchisee staff as quickly as possible.
“The program meets our commitment to right past wrongs. It meets the standards we set for ourselves and those that the community expects of us.
“We are happy to be judged on our actions, and will publicly report our progress as we move forward” Mr McKay said.
7-Eleven confirmed earlier this month that it would close the Fels Wage Fairness Panel and launch its own internal independent unit. The Fels panel was established in September 2015 after allegations of wage fraud were uncovered following a joint investigation by Fairfax Media and the ABC’s Four Corners program.
Professor Allan Fels, who was appointed in September 2015 to head the panel alongside Dr David Cousins, said at the time of the panel’s closure that he believed 7-Eleven decided to axe the panel in order to “minimise the payouts”.
It is understood since the establishment of the Fels Panel, around 400 workers had received reimbursements, totaling around $12 million, and there were still around 2000 claims yet to be processed when Professor Fels and Dr Cousins were let go.
7-Eleven has previously stated that it will regularly publish the outcomes of the claims process on its website and provide the Fair Work Ombudsman with complete access to the process, investigative and determination data as well as the whistle-blower service already established to protect claimants from intimidation.
Any former of current staff who believe they have not been paid their full entitlements can submit their claim to the secretariat on 1800 619 802 or www.wagerepaymentprogram.com.au.