Record penalty for systematic underpayment of staff

On 20 June 2016, the Federal Circuit Court imposed a record penalty totalling $408,348 on a 7-eleven franchisee. In keeping with the increasing preparedness of the Fair Work Ombudsman to hold business proprietors individually liable for their actions, this included a penalty of $68,000 which was imposed on the individual franchisee.  Judge Jarrett found that the employer had systematically exploited 12 employees by making use of a business model that disregarded their legal entitlements and observed that the facts of the case revealed a ‘contemptuous disregard’ of Australian workplace law by the employer and noted the absence of any regret on the part of the employer.  In addition to the penalties and an order for back pay, the employer was ordered to display an in-store notice which informs employees of their entitlements and to undertake an audit regarding its compliance with workplace laws and report on the results to the Fair Work Ombudsman.