A 7-Eleven operator in Sydney has been penalised a record $214,200 for deliberately short-changing two migrant employees and falsifying records.
Harmandeep Singh Sarkaria – who owns and operates the 7-Eleven at Bankstown – has been penalised $35,700 and his company Amritsaria Four Pty Ltd a further $178,500.
They are the largest penalties secured against a 7-Eleven franchisee by the Fair Work Ombudsman, which has undertaken a range of compliance actions aimed at addressing systemic non-compliance by 7-Eleven nationally.
Legal proceedings were brought against Sarkaria for the underpayment of two cashier operators at his Blacktown outlet for a total of $49,426.
Upon investigation, the Fair Work Ombudsman found that Sarkaria made false entries into the 7-Eleven head office payroll system about the number of hours the employees had worked. He also routinely made entries that the employees had worked only 10 hours a week, despite them working significantly more hours. The entries gave the appearance that the employees were paid about $25 an hour, when they were actually paid rates equivalent to $10 an hour.
He also provided Fair Work inspectors investigating the underpayments with false time-and-wages sheets.
In his reasons for the decision, Judge Smith said that despite being “perfectly aware” of legal obligations relating to pay and record-keeping, Sarkaria had used records to “hide the fact that he was not paying two employees properly”.
“The contraventions were not accidental, but, rather part of a deliberate scheme aimed at maximising financial benefit to the respondents,” Judge Smith said.