United Petroleum urged to enter compliance partnership

Fuel retailer United Petroleum is being encouraged to enter a compliance partnership with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to help ensure workers at hundreds of petrol stations are being paid properly.

Random audits of 11 United Petroleum outlets found that six were breaching workplace laws, including underpaying staff by thousands of dollars. Investigations by the FWO began late last year with reports of employees being paid as little as $10 an hour. During the course of the audit, six sites were found to be breaching workplace laws, including the case of two international students who had been underpaid, and had no understanding of their workplace rights.

United Petroleum Pty Ltd is an Australian-owned company with 338 sites nationally operated by franchisees and commission agents.

FWO Natalie James wrote to United Petroleum head office in early December, offering to work with the franchisor to help it review its practices and ensure franchisees understand their workplace obligations and the damage that can be caused to a brand if those responsibilities are not met.

United Petroleum did not respond.

Ms James says a final report on the findings of the agency’s investigations of the 11 United Petroleum outlets is nearing completion and will be publicly released when it is concluded.

However, she revealed that enforcement action has already been taken against two United Petroleum operators – one at Pooraka, in South Australia, and another at Waterloo, in NSW.

Ms James says the partnerships provide an opportunity for businesses to promote their brand to the public in a positive light, and to assure their employees, competitors and customers that they take compliance seriously.

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