7-Eleven said it supports the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) investigation into a Brisbane Franchisee announced recently.
It is alleged that the Franchisee sought repayment of accrued annual leave that had been paid to an employee, then dismissed the employee when these requests were refused. The FWO also alleged that false and misleading employment records were created during the employment of two employees.
7-Eleven has fully cooperated with the FWO’s investigation into these alleged practices and endorses the FWO’s action.
7-Eleven conducted its own investigation into the allegations, which was unable to find a level of evidence required for the company to take its own action under the industry codes.
Unbelievably, underpayment (no matter what the amount) does not entitle a franchisor to terminate a franchise agreement under the existing industry codes. Termination for underpayment is only available to a franchisor if it can be demonstrated at the requisite level of proof that the underpayment has occurred in a way that involves fraudulent conduct.
7-Eleven’s experience demonstrates that the burden of proof is unreasonably difficult to meet.
7-Eleven said it had been calling for 18 months now for the two relevant industry codes – the Franchising Code of Conduct and the Oil Code – to be amended to give franchisors the right to terminate a franchise agreement in the case of serious non-compliance with Commonwealth Workplace Laws or Fair Work Instruments.
It said while the FWO’s investigation is welcomed, the industry should be given the power to uphold the integrity of their own franchise networks in accordance with the increased responsibilities imposed by the Government’s Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill.