by Ben Desir, Workplace Advisor, NRA Legal
Concerning reports of 7-Eleven employees being forced to pay back parts of their wages have come to light.
Recent media reports suggest that franchisees of the embattled 7-Eleven brand, have continued to flout their employment law obligations. Workers have spoken to media outlets claiming that their employers have required to pay them back a portion of their wages.
Hidden camera footage obtained by ABC News shows one employee in a Brisbane store withdrawing her pay in cash and handing it back to her employer. The worker said that her employer threaten to terminate her if she did not pay her employer back thousands of dollar out of her weekly pay.
“My bosses say they can’t afford to pay the government rate. That’s why they ask us to give some of the money back,” the employee said, “[the franchisees] say, agree to paying back the money. If not, you can go find another job. Everyone at the shop has to do it.”
Since publishing the footage, an ex-employee has come forward to support the employee’s claims. Working at the same Brisbane store, the former employee was also forced to pay back thousands of dollars in wages.
“Everyone [working at the store] has to pay back. It’s really unfair because I’m paying their tax… and I can barely get through the week with all my bills and food supplies,” he said.
The ex-employee revealed that he was dismissed after he had resorted to stealing $20 to $30 from the till each week to support himself.
This comes so soon after 7-Eleven signed a Proactive Compliance Deed with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure worker received their lawful entitlements. The Deed implements a number of measures designed to monitor employee hours, ensure employees are being paid correctly and to prevent the kind of ‘cash back’ scam that allegedly occurred in the Brisbane store. These include full implementation of biometric shift scanning systems and the roll out of 7-Eleven owned CCTV systems to allow head office to closely monitor franchises.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James stated that “the measures in this deed are the most robust and comprehensive that any franchise brand has in Australia.”
Earlier this year, the Federal Circuit Court handed down over $400,000 in penalties against a 7-Eleven Franchisee in Brisbane for an action brought by the Fair Work Ombudsman. After the franchisee had been investigated by the Ombudsman for entering false records into 7-Eleven’s payroll system and told to back pay his employees for underpayment of wages, the franchisee then allegedly arranged for his employee to pay thousands of dollars back to him.
7-Eleven is currently conducting their own investigation into the alleged wage fraud at the Brisbane store.
The continued disregard for employment law obligations by some 7-Eleven franchisees and resulting crackdown by the Ombudsman server as a stark reminder to employers to ensure that they comply with their obligations.
If you have any questions regarding employee pay and conditions, please do not hesitate to contact NRA Legal on 1800 RETAIL (1800 738 245).