76 per cent of Caltex sites breaching Australian workplace laws

The Fair Work Ombudsman's latest Compliance Activity Report shows a workplace non-compliance rate of 76% in the Caltex service network.

Fair Work inspectors visited 25 retail fuel outlet sites operated by 23 Caltex franchisees in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Just six of these sites were found to be compliant with workplace laws - a non-compliance rate of 76 per cent.

Across the non-compliant sites, inspectors found evidence of underpayment of wages, non-payment of overtime and penalty rates as well as record keeping and pay slip breaches.

Inspectors also had concerns about the accuracy of the time and wage records provided by non-compliant franchisees, with legal action being taken against two franchisees for allegedly providing falsified records.

The Fair Work Ombudsman commenced proceedings against the former operator of the Caltex Five Dock service station in Sydney, Aulion Pty Ltd, and has also initiated proceedings against Abdul Wahid and Sons Pty Ltd, the former franchisee of a number of Caltex outlets in Sydney.

In both cases, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleges that the absence of accurate time and wage records prevented inspectors from completing audits and determining whether employees had received their lawful entitlements.

The FWO commenced investigations into the network in late 2016 after receiving intelligence indicating an upsurge in compliance issues at Caltex outlets, including non-payment and underpayment of wages; cash payments made 'off the books'; false records; and threats of termination or visa cancellation for any workers who complained.

During the compliance activity, the regulator issued 9 infringement notices, 11 compliance notices and 16 formal cautions to non-compliant franchisees.

Inspectors also recovered a total of $9,329.85 in back-pay for 26 workers who were underpaid during a one-month assessment period.

The FWO said the agency believes the figure would be higher if underpayments could have been accurately calculated, but with so many deficiencies in the outlets' records it is impossible to be sure of the true extent of the wage rip-offs.

Now that Caltex has announced it intends to convert all its franchised service stations to company-operated stores by mid-2020, the FWO has called on Caltex to engage seriously in the offer of a compliance partnership so that the regulator and the Australian community can be confident Caltex is operating openly and honestly.

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