A Melbourne 7-11 franchisee is facing court for underpaying three workers more than $6,000 through an illegal cash-back scam.
The scandal is the latest to hit the convenience store chain, which has previously been exposed for widespread and systemic wage theft.
In fact, this is the 11th court action by the Fair Work Ombudsman against a 7-Eleven franchisee.
7-Eleven franchisee accused of cash-back scam
Facing the Federal Circuit Court is Xia Jing Qi Pty Ltd, and also its manager Al Ling “Irene” Lin.
Lin operates the 7-Eleven on William Street in the Melbourne CBD.
Lin allegedly tried to circumvent 7-Eleven’s new high-tech payroll system designed to prevent underpayments, by demanding that her workers pay-back a portion of their wages each week.
Fair Work inspectors claim Lin put the money in a safe box in the store, and also into her personal bank account.
Workers underpaid for hours worked
As a result of paying back their wages, the workers received effective hourly rates ranging from $8.53 to $26.52.
The legal wage is up to $24.30 for ordinary hours, up to $38.88 on Sundays and up to $48.60 on public holidays.
In total, Fair Work says the workers are owed $6,674 for various periods of work between November 2015 and October 2016.
It’s also alleged the company provided inspectors with false and misleading records in relation to the underpayments.
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Vulnerable workers easy to exploit
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says unscrupulous employers always target vulnerable young workers.
“It is absolutely outrageous that penny pinching bosses think they can get away with wage theft these days,” he said.
“It’s always the most vulnerable workers who are the victim of underpayments.
“This case involves three international students who may not have known their rights, or may have been too scared to complain.”
The Federal Circuit Court has a penalty hearing listed in Melbourne on 5 October 2018.
NOTE: Xia Jing Qi Pty Ltd no longer owns or operates the William Street 7-Eleven store in Melbourne. The Fair Work Ombudsman makes no allegations against the current operator.
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