Five convenience stores in Melbourne’s CBD will reimburse 88 workers $112,000 after an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman found the employees were being underpaid.
The underpayments were identified by inspectors after they made a series of surprise night-time visits to 7-Eleven stores.
The random audits followed allegations that young employees were being exploited and that some employers were forging employment records.
Fair Work Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell said many of the underpaid workers were considered to be “vulnerable” because they were young foreign students.
The underpayments found at each store were $32,134 for 18 workers, $27,053 for 25 workers, $24,987 for 25 workers, $23,671 for 16 workers and $3615 for four workers.
Campbell said the results were concerning, but was pleased the 7-Eleven franchisor had taken an active interest in addressing the issue.
“The franchisor wants to work cooperatively with the FWO on a program to ensure its Victorian stores comply with federal workplace laws,” he said. 
“And it will make it clear that franchisees risk termination of their contracts if they do not comply.”
The major problem was the underpayment of penalty rates for weekend and night shift workers.
Campbell said rogue employers caught deliberately ripping off young vulnerable workers faced severe financial penalties.
“We will not hesitate to throw the book at unscrupulous bosses who think they can exploit young workers,” he said.
"My simple warning to those who want to risk it is simple – don’t! There’s a tough watchdog on the beat and there’s a high price to be paid.”
Breaches of federal workplace law carry a maximum penalty of $33,000.