Hidden videos recorded by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation show a Brisbane 7-Eleven employee handing back a sizeable portion of her pay to the store franchisee. The employee told the ABC that she and other staff were told to pay back thousands of dollars or face losing their jobs.
"My bosses say they can't afford to pay the government rate. That's why they ask us to give some of the money back," said the worker "Anna" (real identity hidden), an international student studying in Australia.
In one of the videos Anna can be seen giving her boss $150 in cash. She ends up paying almost $11 for every hour she works — more than $6,000 since the start of this year.
"The government pay is $25 per hour for casual staff. What I get is $14 per hour. Every week I pay [back], because they pay me every week," she said.
"[I] take the cash out of the ATM, and hand it back."
7-Eleven told the news channel it has launched an internal investigation into the allegations involving the Brisbane store.
Like many of her co-workers, Anna said the cash back scam is the only way of securing her job.
"[The franchisees] say agree to paying back the money. If not, you can go find another job. Everyone at the shop has to do it," she said.
Systemic wage fraud and the underpayment of workers was exposed by Four Corners and Fairfax Media last year as well prompting the company to set up a wages compensation panel headed by former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Allan Fels.
But Fels was let go when he refused to agree to new conditions the company wanted to impose.
"When my panel was effectively fired by 7-Eleven we had drawn their attention to many continuing cases of these cash back payments," said Fels. "This example here clearly shows not enough has changed."
A spokesman for the company told ABC that 7-Eleven "takes any allegation of illegal activity in our franchisee network extremely seriously."
"We are not aware of any allegations relating to this store, and no staff members have raised any concerns with us. As soon as the allegations were raised with us we commenced an internal investigation," the spokesman said.
He added the chain of stores will act upon any allegations of illegal activity, "up to and including termination of the Franchise Agreement."