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Small retail shops 'win' from 7-Eleven fines

Business

Massive fines being handed out to rogue 7-Eleven operators mean rival small retail businesses will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage, says the National Retail Association.

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The Federal Circuit Court fined the operators of a 7-Eleven store in Brisbane’s West End more than $400,000 for systematically exploiting its workers.

The penalty is the latest in a number of actions against 7-Eleven franchisees following a Fair Work ombudsman investigation in 2015.

NRA acting chief executive Ian Winterburn said not only would migrant and youth workers benefit but so would small retail businesses, which may have had trouble competing with a nearby 7-Eleven business.

“Certainly people have been exploited and the business following the regulations properly are now no longer disadvantaged,” Winterburn told AAP.

“It (systemic exploitation of workers) doesn’t create a level playing field and has given an unfair advantage to those (unscrupulous) people.

“We’ve done quite a bit of work with our franchise members and we’ve been engaged in a lot of audits to make sure they are compliant.”

Winterburn said the NRA had been conducting wages seminars to educate its members for the past six months and expressing the need to be diligent in following work place regulations.

He said any discrepancies they had discovered were only minor.

But Winterburn did admit the fines also highlighted the complexity of the workplace relations system.

“There’s no doubt that this is a highly complex area of regulation, and we know from experience that many small business owners struggle to understand their obligations and comply with the volumes of workplace law,” he said.

“(It’s) why many of them simply opt to close their doors or only use family members behind the counter at times when penalty rates may apply.”

-AAP

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