Did franchisees tell employees to lie about wages?

Sarah Stowe

Petrol franchise Caltex has challenged claims of underpayment and allegations franchisees told employees to lie about their wages to the Fair Work Ombudsman. 

According to a report by Fairfax some employees at Caltex stores were allegedly paid as little as $12 an hour and The Fair Work Ombudsman notified Caltex that it would be completing unannounced site audits in stores.

Franchisees were allegedly notified of this from a tip-off before employees said they were pressured by bosses to conceal their working conditions.

The petrol retailer rejected the idea of a “tip off”, saying that messages that flowed from head office across the network were meant to “ensure full cooperation with the auditing process should their site be inspected”.

In a statement by Caltex this morning, a spokesperson said all of its 85 company-operated sites “comply with all Australian laws, including those related to wages and conditions” and has processes in place to help franchisees that are experiencing financial challenges.

“Caltex assigns business managers to support every site in its retail network. The business manager’s role is to work with the franchisee to act as their key point of contact and to work collaboratively to achieve the goals outlined in each franchisees individual site business plan,” the spokesperson said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman said it had informed Caltex of its plans to conduct audits to ensure that owners were compliant when on-site visits occurred.

Caltex also said it was not aware of any breaches at the sites it operates, including franchised stores, and says that it conducts annual review processes with all franchisees.