7-Eleven has voluntarily signed a comprehensive proactive compliance deed with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), as part of its ongoing cooperation with the regulator and commitment to transparency through the reform process.
In signing the deed, 7-Eleven again acknowledges its moral and ethical responsibility to require and ensure standards of conduct from all franchisees and individuals involved in the conduct of its enterprise, as well as compliance with the law in relation to all employees, meeting Australian community and social expectations and providing equal, fair and safe work opportunities for all employees.
“We have zero tolerance for wage fraud and are doing all we can to stamp it out from our network of franchised stores,” 7-Eleven CEO Angus McKay said. “This week we have taken the next major step in our reform journey through voluntarily signing a robust proactive deed of compliance with the Fair Work Ombudsman that sets the standard for our industry.”
The deed acknowledges the substantial steps 7-Eleven has already taken in addressing wage-underpayment issues in its franchised network and commits the franchisor to implementing further reforms, including:
- Enhancing in-store identification of staff and their hours worked through photographic identification and centralised CCTV systems.
- Establishing a staff consultative forum with employees from across the franchise network, operated directly by 7-Eleven and excluding franchisees.
- Regular communication to all employees regarding their workplace rights, where to find further information, and how to make inquiries or lodge a complaint.
- External audits assessing compliance with Commonwealth workplace laws and applicable Fair Work instruments, including statistically relevant samples of time and wage records.
The deed also acknowledges the steps 7-Eleven has taken, and will continue to take, in ensuring underpaid franchisee employees receive their full entitlements as quickly and fairly as possible.
The 7-Eleven wage repayment panel (WRP) will remain open to new claims until January 31, 2017. From February 1, all new claims will be directed to 7-Eleven’s internal investigation unit (IIU), where they will be processed following similar principles and methodology to those of the WRP, with two main differences.
The IIU may – with the consent of the claimant – disclose information, including the identity of the claimant, to third parties, including the franchisee or FWO. Where the withholding of consent impacts the ability of 7-Eleven to investigate or substantiate the allegation, the claimant will be informed of this.
Where underpayment has been reasonably substantiated, the franchisee will be required to rectify the underpayment within 30 days. Where the franchisee fails to rectify the underpayment, 7-Eleven will make an ex-gratia payment to the claimant to rectify the underpayment.
However, if the underpayment arose from conduct akin to ‘cash-back’, the employee being required to perform work at places other than 7-Eleven, or misuse of 7-Eleven’s systems, such as failing to record hours, 7-Eleven will not be required to make an ex-gratia payment unless the claim was lodged within 90 days of the claimant becoming aware of or participating in the alleged behaviour.
Mr McKay says 7-Eleven has voluntarily paid almost $57 million to more than 1,400 claimants to date and proposed a range of policy reforms to raise the standard across the franchising industry.
“I’ve consistently said we want to be judged on our actions,” he said. “We’ll continue to report transparently on our progress as we seek to be the exemplar of a solution to a problem that is regrettably broader than our network.
“We’ll continue these efforts, and our ongoing collaboration with the Fair Work Ombudsman and others, to ensure our franchised store network operates at the highest standard we and the community expect.”