Fifteen convenience stores in Sydney’s CBD will reimburse 80 workers more than $50,000 after an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman found the employees were being underpaid. 
Fair Work Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell said inspectors have checked the books of 50 stores selected at random.
About half the stores targeted for scrutiny received surprise night-time visits so inspectors could speak directly to staff, many of whom were from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Campbell said the convenience stores – mostly 24-hour, seven-days-a-week businesses in the inner city – were audited following allegations by a retail union that young employees were being exploited and that some employers were forging employment records.
He says 15 stores were found to be short-changing staff – mostly because they paid a flat hourly rate and failed to pay weekend and late-night penalties – and 14 were found to be in breach of workplace law because of inadequate recordkeeping.
With 40 audits finalised, inspectors have recouped a total of $50,551 for 80 workers. Eight investigations remain ongoing.