The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against the former operators of two 7-Eleven stores in Victoria, saying they underpaid four employees more than $85,000.
The agency is taking legal action against Bosen Pty Ltd, which previously owned 7-Eleven stores in Moorabool St, Geelong and Park St, South Yarra.
Also facing court are joint owners of Bosen and the former operators of both stores, Hao Chen and Xue Jing, of Toorak.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Bosen, Chen and Jing committed several breaches of workplace relations laws and is seeking penalties and a court order for back-payment of the money allegedly owed.
Documents lodged in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court allege Bosen underpaid the four workers a total of $85,408 between 2005 and 2009.
The ombudsman alleges the company listed the workers’ pay rates at double what they were actually paid – and recorded half the number of hours they actually worked – to make it appear the employees were being paid correctly.
The conduct allegedly resulted in underpayment of the workers’ minimum hourly rates and penalty rates for weekend, night and public holiday work.
It is also alleged that the workers were not paid annual leave entitlements and that two of them were required to do unpaid ‘training’ of up to 24 hours before starting paid employment.
It is alleged the four employees were underpaid amounts of $40,583, $25,341, $15,845 and $3639 respectively.
Bosen allegedly also failed to keep proper employment records and made false entries in payslips.
Fair Work Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell says it will be alleged that the underpayments were deliberate and that repeated demands for back-payment of the workers have been ignored.
“We will be alleging that this is a case of serious exploitation,” he said.
The maximum potential penalty per breach is $33,000 for Bosen and $6600 for Chen and Jing for the alleged underpayment issues and $5500 for Bosen for alleged employment record and payslip contraventions.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is currently auditing more than 60 of Victoria’s 7-Eleven stores in a joint campaign with the franchisor.