The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is investigating allegations by
the retail union that young foreign employees are being exploited
by 7-Eleven franchisees and that some franchisees are not paying
the correct penalty rates to their weekend and night shift workers.
In many cases, the allegations include the failure by the 7-Eleven
franchisees to maintain accurate and up-to-date employment
To date, the FWO investigation has recouped more than A$162,000
for approximately 168 underpaid 7-Eleven workers. Five franchisees
in Melbourne's CBD will be required to reimburse 88 workers
A$112,000 in wage underpayments and a sixth store has been formally
requested to reimburse 12 staff with almost 1000 hours of annual
In response to the ongoing 7-Eleven investigation, the FWO has
commenced a joint campaign with 7-Eleven to perform a compliance
audit to ensure that all 7-Eleven stores in Victoria are operating
in strict compliance with all federal workplace laws. The FWO has
broad powers to investigate and prosecute employers who breach the
federal workplace laws including those laws dealing with awards and
The audit will scrutinise the records of 63 7-Eleven
franchisees. However, the FWO has indicated that the audit may be
widened to include every 7-Eleven store in Victoria if further
issues of concern are identified and franchisees do not show
compliance with workplace laws. The audit is targeted to ensure,
among other things, that:
employees are being paid for all hours worked
employees are receiving full payment of weekend and evening
franchisees are complying with their record-keeping and payslip
To assist in this investigation, the FWO has been granted broad
investigatory powers such as the right to access to workplaces,
interview staff and obtain employment records and other relevant
If the FWO receives a complaint that an employer has failed to
comply with federal workplace laws, it may first seek to resolve
the compliance failure privately with the assistance of the parties
involved. However, the FWO has the authority to launch a formal
investigation into the matter where the problem cannot be resolved
privately. Where the contravention is not corrected privately
between the parties, the FWO may seek court orders for the
imposition of penalties and/or compensation payments to the
applicable employees in relation to contravention of workplace
laws. The FWO may seek a maximum penalty of A$6,600 for an
individual and A$33,000 for a corporation.
This compliance audit is part of a wider campaign by the FWO
targeting the retail industry generally to promote compliance with
workplace laws. Franchisees will be required to cooperate with the
FWO inspectors and to act upon the results of the audit. The
7-Eleven franchisor has made it clear that it takes this audit very
seriously and that there will be consequences for franchisees if
they do not comply with workplace laws.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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