CONVENIENCE store chain 7-Eleven has launched an internal investigation after the release of covert video reportedly showing an employee handing back a sizeable portion of her pay to a store franchisee.
An employee at a Brisbane 7-Eleven told the ABC that she and other staff were told to pay back thousands of dollars or face losing their jobs.
"My bosses say they can't afford to pay the government rate. That's why they ask us to give some of the money back," said the worker "Anna".
Known in the industry as the "cash back" scam, workers are paid the full award rate but have to hand back up to half their pay to the store franchisee.
7-Eleven told the ABC it has launched an internal investigation into the allegations involving the Brisbane store.
Anna is an international student studying in Australia, and says the cash back scam is the only way of securing her job.
In a written response to the ABC, 7-Eleven said it took "any allegation of illegal activity in our franchisee network extremely seriously.
"Anyone with evidence of or concerns about illegal practices at our stores are encouraged to come forward and we will promptly and thoroughly investigate.
"Our Franchisee Employee Helpline (1800 711 243) is a dedicated, external and independent service, available to all employees of 7Eleven Franchisees, to raise issues and concerns in regard to misconduct, unethical and illegal activity within franchised 7-Eleven stores."
The 7-Eleven statement went on to say: "Over the past year 7-Eleven has made a significant investment in industry leading initiatives across our franchisee network, including a bio-metric time clock system and centralised payroll system, and a significant increase in field level investigation and compliance activity, to ensure to ensure that all store
team members receive the wages and conditions applicable under the relevant award."
The company said it was not aware of any complaints about the so-called 'cash back' scheme.
"As soon as the allegations were raised with us we commenced an internal investigation."
"Our Franchisee network knows we take a zero tolerance approach to wage fraud. Our new measures are designed to ensure that team members are paid their appropriate wages in full."
"The alleged practice occurs after the correct wages have been paid, and is effectively extortion or theft in breach of the law, our franchise agreement, our policies and our values.
"Without having seen the evidence of this allegation, it is inappropriate for us to jump to a conclusion. However, we will aggressively investigate and, where required, act upon any allegations of illegal Franchisee activity, up to and
including termination of the Franchise Agreement.
"We also encourage any staff disadvantaged by such activity to contact us directly and we will promptly
pursue repayment of any monies owed to them by their employer."
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