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Media Statement 11052016

7-Eleven and the Fels Wage Panel have today agreed to transition the claims process for past under-payment of wages by franchisees to an independent unit within 7-Eleven.

The Fels Panel will cease deliberations from Friday with all existing claims continuing to be processed by the Secretariat against enhanced investigative protocols and evidentiary standards. 

7-Eleven Chairman Michael Smith said “the Panel has undertaken a difficult and complex task with great integrity and commitment for the past 8 months and I thank Professor Allan Fels and Professor David Cousins for their oversight of the process.

“It is important to state unequivocally that the process for claims will continue and 7-Eleven will pay all legitimate claims by franchisee employees for the past underpayment of wages.

“We will ensure claimant confidentiality and the independence of the proposed internal unit that will be responsible to the Chief Executive Officer, be separated from all operational aspects and staff within the business and staffed by appropriately qualified individuals and backed by a Secretariat,” Mr Smith said.

The claims process will continue and any legitimate new claims will be accepted. 7-Eleven encourages anyone who believes they have a claim to make contact through the Secretariat on 1800 619 802.

The Secretariat will operate under enhanced terms of reference and will:

·         be staffed by qualified forensics accountants

·         meet the highest levels of claimant confidentiality

·         adopt evidentiary standards that protect against the prospect of corrupt activity, and

·         liaise with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

In assessing claims, the Secretariat will provide 7-Eleven with a recommendation, the basis of validation and the quantum of each claim to be paid.

In the interests of openness and transparency, 7-Eleven will regularly publish the outcomes of the claims process on its website and provide the Fair Work Ombudsman with complete access to the process, investigative and determination data as well as the whistle-blower service already established to protect claimants from intimidation.

7-Eleven is prepared to fund additional resources for the FWO should that be required for the Ombudsman to take an active oversight role.

 

Mr Smith said “the Panel has provided 7-Eleven with an opportunity to gather in-house capabilities and implement new systems and processes that position us to take responsibility and accountability for this aspect of our business.

“It is incumbent upon 7-Eleven to take responsibility for this process. Ethical corporate standards cannot and should not be outsourced. We are happy to be held to the standards we have set for and expect of ourselves,” the Chairman said.      

7-Eleven Chief Executive Officer, Angus McKay said “enhanced in-house capability and my requirement that the company be responsible and accountable for all aspects of the business, means now is the time to make this transition.

“In enhancing aspects of the process through an amended Terms of Reference, I acknowledge that 7-Eleven is changing the basis upon which the Panel has operated.

“However, it is incumbent upon us to adapt to the changed circumstances we are confronting in order to maintain the integrity and credibility of our efforts to pay all legitimate claims for past wage underpayment.

“I believe the changes we are implementing are important and necessary and will enable the claims process to be effective and efficient, whilst remaining fair in all the circumstances.

The new unit we are establishing will be dedicated to the claims process full-time and it is my expectation that as a result more claimants will be paid more quickly.

“7-Eleven’s first priority remains to make sure those who have been disadvantaged as a result of wage underpayment practices by franchisees are paid what they are legitimately entitled to and as quickly as possible.

 “Today’s announcement reflects the company’s commitment to integrity, credibility and fairness,” Mr McKay said.