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International student employees forced by 7-Eleven store to pay back wage in cash

EMPLOYEES at a Brisbane 7-Eleven store were allegedly forced to hand back half of their pay to the store franchisee, in a practice known as the “cash back” scam. Trinh Le has more.

Recent undercover video footage has revealed yet another case of underpayment and workplace negligence by a 7-Eleven franchise in Brisbane, the ABC reports.

Referred to as the “cash back” scam, footage obtained by the ABC as part of its hidden camera investigation showed an international student employee, Anna, withdrawing money from an ATM within the 7-Eleven store and subsequently returning hundreds of her hard-earned cash back to her employer.

According to Anna, whose name was changed in ABC’s original report, she and her co-workers — many of them international students — were initially paid the full award rate for a casual worker – which was $25 per hour – but management at the franchisee required that they hand back $11 for every work hour, or risk losing their jobs.

“My bosses say they can’t afford to pay the government rate”, explained Anna, whose name was changed in ABC’s original report. “That’s why they ask us to give some of the money back.”

ABC used hidden cameras to film two occasions when Anna was seen returning money she earned from work back to her manager.

Bank statements provided to the ABC also revealed that she had paid back more than $6,000 in 2016.

This is not the first time that 7-Eleven has been embroiled in workplace controversy. Earlier this year, Fair Work Ombudsman released a report documenting the convenience store franchise’s systemic breaches in workplace laws. These breaches included falsified records, underpayment and other illegal practices.

A 7-Eleven spokesman told the ABC that the company “takes any allegation of illegal activity in our franchisee network extremely seriously”, and has launched an internal investigation into the cash back scam involving the Brisbane store.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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