Back-Pay Extravaganza

Allan Fels has championed a cause for the rights of the 7-Eleven employees who fell victim to the payroll scam, and his work will soon be reflected in the future wave of tranche payments.

Panel of reimbursement

Fels partnered with David Cousins, the former Consumer Affairs Victoria chairman, ACCC commissioner and Prices Surveillance Authority chair, to form a panel. The Fels Wage Fairness Panel was initially set up by the convenience store giant in early September after Fairfax Media and Four Corners revealed the systematic payroll fraud among 620 7-Eleven stores across Australia.

The panel has committed to sending out letters to 15,000 current and former employees at 7-Eleven stores between 2007-15, notifying and encouraging them to lodge a back-pay claim as they /have most likely been victim to the scandal.

The panel has estimated an average payout over a 15,000 potential claims could set 7-Eleven back $300 million.

Fairfax Media has brought to light that the Fels wage Fairness Panel is planning to extend the scope of review period back to 2003, which could result in a back-pay extravaganza.

The panel is currently working through the next tranche of 350 claims that it has received.

Restricted claims

Through the scandal, many 7-Eleven employees have broken the terms and conditions of their student visas and worked over 20 hours a week for little financial gain. As such, Fels has called for visa amnesty for these 7-Eleven workers in order for a greater number of compensation claims to surface. Yet, confusion within the Turnbull government over amnesty could make it difficult for workers to come forward.

This week, Immigration Department Deputy Secretary Michael Manthorpe told the Senate that any affected students would have “no action taken against them”. Interestingly, a spokesman for the Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton stated the opposite, saying that amnesty would not be offered to 7-Eleven workers. Along with Fels, 7-Eleven chairman Michael Smith, the ALP and the Greens all support amnesty, leaving Minister Dutton’s office as the only hold-out on the matter.

The outcome of the amnesty offerings are still speculative.

Stick around for updates on the panel of reimbursement.

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