Patrick Hatch, 19 January 2016

7-Eleven’s head office has taken control of two stores in NSW after discovering the owner had underpaid his workers.

The company, which was rocked last year by revelations of widespread wage fraud, said the action was taken following an audit of the two stores.

“Effective today, 7-Eleven has taken operational control of the stores concerned and existing staff will be offered ongoing employment,” interim chief executive Bob Baily​ said in a statement.

“The decision to terminate was taken after an extensive investigation by a team of professionals engaged by 7-Eleven to review a range of materials relating to the operation of the particular stores in question.”

7-Eleven would not reveal how many workers had been underpaid, saying it did not want to prejudice any future legal action involving the owner.

A company spokesman said the stores were in NSW, outside of Sydney, but would not give an exact location for fear of the exploited employees becoming “the focus of any attention”.

Fairfax Media revealed systemic wage abuse at 7-Eleven’s 620 Australian stores last year, prompting the resignation of the chain’s co-owner Russ Withers as well as its chief executive Warren Wilmot, and a series of investigations.

Former consumer tsar Allan Fels is running a compensation scheme for workers who believe they have been ripped off. The company has denied knowing workers were being underpaid.

Tuesday’s revelations follow the Fair Work Ombudsman announcement it was launching legal action against a Queensland franchisee last week.

The ombudsman alleges Jason Yuan underpaid 21 staff at two Brisbane stores by more than $31,000 in just one year and failed to pay penalty rates and casual loading, and gave workers false pay slips.

The ombudsman has launched six cases against 7-Eleven operators since 2009.

Extracted in full from the Sydney Morning Herald.