7-Eleven brought large scale non-compliance to national attention with a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation that started in 2014. Not only was there evidence of underpayments but fraudulent records were kept by the franchisees.
A franchise system meant that individual stores were the employers and liable for any sanctions for breaching workplace laws. The corporate brand as a franchisor was immune from prosecution as 7-Eleven was not the employer.
The conciliatory approach that was adopted by the Fair Work Ombudsman in this case failed due to 7-Eleven failing to cooperate with any program intended to bring about a culture of compliance.
A 7-Eleven internal survey in 2015 indicated that 69 percent of franchisees had payroll issues, including fraud.
A large number of employees on working visas also hampered the investigation as employees were too scared to speak for fear of deportation.
The amount of stolen wages in the 7-Eleven scandal has been estimated at more than $110 million.