The Fair Work Ombudsman has begun to take legal action against a Caltex franchisee in Sydney after an audit attempt was halted by falsified wage records.
Following concerns about underpayments and an audit of 25 Caltex service stations, the Ombudsman investigated the outlets in 2017.
A statement released by Fair Work said: “the Fair Work Ombudsman issued Abdul Wahid and Sons Pty Ltd with a Notice to Produce and Mr Rana and the company provided timesheets, payroll records and pay slips purporting to show the hours worked and wage rates for 15 employees at the Dural and Ermington service stations”.
It is alleged that the provided documentation, documenting time and wage records could not be correct because the company had been knowingly using a software system that produced false records.
It is also alleged that both parties knowingly provided Fair Work with the falsified records.
Fair Work said: “The absence of accurate time-and-wages records prevented the Fair Work Ombudsman from completing a full audit to determine whether employees at the Dural and Ermington outlets had been paid their full lawful entitlements”.
“For the false records matters, Mr Rana faces maximum penalties of up to $3600 per contravention and Abdul Wahid and Sons Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $18,000 per contravention. For the pay slips matter, maximum penalties of up to $5400 per contravention for Mr Rana and $27,000 per contravention for the company apply,” it said.
Caltex responded to the Fair Work Ombudsman saying the following: “Caltex has been and continues to work with the Fair Work Ombudsman, who has been investigating some Caltex-franchised sites. The Ombudsman has an important role to play in ensuring compliance with Australian workplace laws, and has powers to take action where they find non-compliance with those laws.”
“We have taken the actions we are permitted by the relevant Codes and under our agreements with franchisees. We have established an audit process, an independently run whistleblower hotline, and an assistance fund for franchisee employees who have been affected by the conduct of certain of our franchisees. We have also improved screening and acceptance processes for people entering into a franchise agreement with us,” the company continued.
“The operator named by The Fair Work Ombudsman was exited from the Caltex network in 2017 as part of the Caltex audit process.”
A hearing regarding the allegations was scheduled in Sydney’s Federal Circuit Court in Sydney for February 7th 2018.