7-Eleven Staff underpaid as company demands high returns

EMPLOYEES at 7-Eleven stores around the country have been underpaid and overworked, and the company's head office has known about the problem for up to a year.

An investigation by Fairfax Media and the ABC's Four Corners program showed the company's Australian head office completed a review of 225 stores earlier this year.

That review found up to 69 stores had payroll compliance issues, including falsified records and rosters, Fairfax reported on Monday.

The company's head office released a statement on the weekend saying it was "extremely disappointed" that franchisees had not met their employment obligations.

Fairfax reported, however, the company's structure demanded high returns for head office and was forcing franchisees to underpay hundreds of workers.

The office of the Fair Work Ombudsman confirmed it had launched legal action in at least one case.

Ombudsman Natalie James said the FWO has started legal action against the owner of a store in the Sydney suburb of Blacktown for underpaying two workers some $50,000.

Ms James told Four Corners and Fairfax Media the FWO investigation was looking into whether head office was complicit in the fraud.

"The question that I would put to 7-Eleven is, 'What's your contribution to this problem, to this conduct? What steps are you not taking that you might take to ensure that your franchisees are doing the right thing?'" she said.