More 7-Eleven franchisees have recently been charged with breaches of the Fair Work Act relating to underpayment of workers, taking the total number of 7-Eleven store owners to nine.
This morning the office of the Fair Work Ombudsman announced legal action against the East Brisbane outlet’s manager and part-owner Avinash Pratap Singh, and a company he is a director of, S & A Enterprises (QLD) Pty Ltd.
It was alleged the operators of the 7-Eleven fuel outlet at 508 Vulture Street underpaid two workers, students from India in their mid-20s, the sum of $5593 over a five month period in 2014.
It has also been alleged that Mr Singh falsified employment records to support false entries into the 7-Eleven head office payroll system, with misstated hours of work and rates of pay which effectively concealed alleged underpayments, which have been repaid.
The ombudsman commenced investigations after a request for assistance from one of the workers.
If guilty Mr Singh faces fines of up to $10,200 per contravention of the Fair Work Act, and S & A Enterprises faces fines of up to $51,000 for the same.
The company also faces the prospect of audit under court order for its compliance with workplace laws.
The office of the Fair Work Ombudsman has described the issue of non-compliance with the Fair Work within the 7-Eleven franchise network as “systemic”, with nine operators charged since 2009, and is in talks with 7-Eleven about steps the head office needs to take to build a franchising model that ensures workers are paid correctly in the future.
7-Eleven GM corporate affairs Clayton Ford said the franchisor welcomed the Fair Work Ombudsman’s action against the East Brisbane franchisee, and had been collaborating with the office’s investigation, which dated back to July-November 2014.
“There should be no doubt that we have zero tolerance of wage fraud, and any Franchisee proven to be engaging in this behaviour will be terminated from our network,” he said.
Mr Ford said that over the past year 7-Eleven had made a “significant investment in industry-leading initiatives across the Franchisee network, including a bio-metric time clock system and centralised payroll system, and a significant increase in field-level investigation and compliance activity, to ensure that all store team members receive the wages and conditions applicable under the relevant award.”
“We have also used our experience to propose a range of critical industry reforms to underpin standards and entrench ethical behaviours across Australia’s franchise sector.”
Mr Ford encouraged legitimate claimants to underpayments by 7-Eleven franchisees to contact the Secretariat on 1800 619 802 or go to www.wagerepaymentprogram.com.au.
“It has become increasingly evident that wage underpayment is shockingly widespread in parts of the Australian economy,” he said.
“7-Eleven has acted swiftly and comprehensively in an effort to stamp out these practices within our own network, to repay our Franchisees’ employees, and to propose industry reforms we believe will help address the issue.
“We will continue these efforts, and our collaboration with the FWO and others, to ensure our franchised store network operates at the highest standard.”
Fair Work ombudsman Natalie James will today address the Migration Institute of Australia National Conference to dispel myths about the entitlements of migrant workers.
Last week it was revealed that the 7-Eleven wage payment panel has been repaying underpaid workers at an interest rate of 1.5 per cent, despite recommendations by the Fels Panel that interest on repayments should be the cash rate plus 4.0 per cent.