Operators of the 7-Eleven store on Vulture Street was found to have underpaid workers. (ABC News: Andree Withey)
The operators of a Brisbane 7-Eleven store have been fined almost $200,000 for short-changing overseas workers and creating false records to try and cover it up.
The Fair Work Ombudsman imposed a $32,130 on Avinash Pratap Singh — who manages and part owns the 7-Eleven outlet in Vulture Street East Brisbane — and a company he is a director of, S&A Enterprises, was penalised an additional $160,650.
The Federal Circuit heard inspectors found two international students in their mid 20s from India were underpaid almost $6,000 for short periods of work in 2014.
They were paid flat hourly rates as low as $14.14 an hour, which is under the award and resulted in the underpayment of overtime rates, casual loadings and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work.
In sentencing, Judge Salvatore Vasta said the exploitation gave the franchise outlet “a leg up against legitimate businesses”.
He also slammed Mr Singh and S&A Enterprises for making false entries into their payroll systems.
“It’s an appalling breach of the standards that are needed for businesses to operate fairly in this country,” Judge Vasta said.
“Not only did that mean that there were false records that were kept, it meant that when the Fair Work Ombudsman wanted those records, they were given false records, which, as I have already pointed out, has meant that the investigation was a lot more arduous and tedious than it should have been.”
The fines against Mr Singh and S&A Enterprises are the latest in a string of penalties secured by the Fair Work Ombudsman against 7-Eleven franchisees nationally, including six cases in Brisbane.
App helps workers back-up hours
The Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James last year released a Record My Hours smartphone app, which uses geofencing technology to provide workers with a record of the time they spend at their workplace.
“We see far too many examples of records that are either deliberately misleading or sub-standard and the app is a valuable back-up for workers when employers failed to meet their record-keeping obligations,” Ms James said.
“We are seeking to raise awareness among international students that in line with an agreement between the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, you can seek our assistance without fear of your visa being cancelled, even if you’ve worked more hours than you should have under your visa.”