A panel investigating underpayment of workers at 7-Eleven stores has so far seen almost $10 million paid out in compensation.
Allan Fels, a former chairman of consumer watchdog ACCC who is heading a panel funded by 7-Eleven following allegations of worker exploitation, has received 2,800 claims over the last six months.
The average payout was $33,284.
Some claims were based on non payment of overtime and penalty rates for employees working extremely long hours including nights and weekends.
“We have also seen instances of employees working in different stores, over many years at wages of between $10-$12 per hour,” Fels says.
“Importantly, many employees who were previously underpaid, and are still working at 7-Eleven, are now reporting that they are receiving the correct hourly wage.”
The panel is tasked with making good any underpayment of staff by 7-Eleven franchisees. The allegations include that foreign students were underpaid and threatened with deportation if they complained.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has taken seven 7-Eleven operators to court since 2009. The latest is a store in Brisbane where 12 staff, including international students, were allegedly underpaid a total of $82,661 in 2014.
7-Eleven is the subject of a national inquiry by the Fair Work Ombudsman into allegations of systemic underpayments and false record-keeping.
The final report is expected to be released soon.
Fels has previously said that the 7-Eleven franchise model only works by underpaying workers.
Fels says almost $10 million has been paid back to workers since the wage fairness panel was established in September.
“Claims processing is a time-consuming activity and is influenced by the amount of information the claimant provides, the complexity of the claim and the number of skilled persons available to perform the task,” Fels says.
The wage fairness panel is supported by a team of forensic accountants from Deloitte.