Service station chain and three management staff face court for underpaying workers

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against a major service station chain for allegedly underpaying 22 employees $62,393 at sites across regional NSW.

Facing the Federal Circuit Court is Westside Petroleum Retail 1 Pty Ltd and three of its management staff - general manager Patrick Riad, company accountant Francesco Ieraci and area manager Shahzaib Khawaja ­- who are each alleged to have been involved in the company's breaches.

The FWO alleges that employees were underpaid at 12 petrol stations - Adaminaby, Wagga Wagga, Finley, Gurley, Lismore, Somerton, Temora, Tolland, Blayney, Glen Innes, Peak Hill and Cooma - for periods between July 2015 and May 2016. During the Audit period, the 12 sites were each company-operated.

Fair Work Inspectors audited Westside Petroleum following requests for assistance from Westside employees.

It is alleged the company told employees they would be paid a net rate of $18 per hour, with payroll staff then paying gross weekly amounts generally equating to about $18 per hour net and that this led to underpayments of the employees' casual weekday, weekend, public holiday and overtime rates under the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award.

Workers on adult rates under this Award were entitled to gross hourly wages of $25.05 on weekdays, $32.56 on weekends and public holidays and an additional $14.21 for overtime hours.

The company faces penalties of up to $54,000 per contravention and each of Mr Riad, Mr Ieraci and Mr Khawaja faces penalties of up to $10,800 per contravention.

Orders are also being sought that will require Westside to provide information to its franchisees about the outcome of this legal action, the need for franchisees and franchisors to comply with the Fair Work Act and the Award, current Award rates, and the potential for civil penalties if they do not comply.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on 12 April.