Former Caltex franchisee faces court

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Inside Franchise Business: a franchisee faces court for alleged document falsificationA former Caltex franchisee in Sydney is in hot water for allegedly falsifying records of the wage rates it paid to overseas workers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking legal action against Caltex Five Dock service station former franchisee Peter Dagher and his company Aulion Pty Ltd.

Last year the Ombudsman investigated the Five Dock outlet as part of a proactive compliance activity involving audits of 15 Caltex service stations nationally.

The Ombudsman found inconsistencies in a range of documents provided by the company and those issued by a bank, a superannuation fund and Aulion’s accountant and alleges Dagher and his company falsified documents and records, and by providing them to the FWO used these documents unlawfully.

It is alleged that Dagher and his company also contravened laws requiring employers to issue employees with accurate pay slips within one day of pay day.

The absence of accurate time-and-wages records prevented the Fair Work Ombudsman from completing a full audit to determine whether employees at Caltex Five Dock had been paid their full lawful entitlements.

Dagher faces maximum penalties of up to $3600 per contravention and Aulion Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $18,000 per contravention.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on December 21.

A spokesperson for Caltex said "While this operator is no longer within the Caltex network, the Fair Work Ombudsman has an important role to play in ensuring compliance with Australian workplace laws. The Ombudsman has been investigating some Caltex-franchised sites and has powers to take action where they find non compliance with our workplace laws. 

"While Caltex has worked with the Fair Work Ombudsman, it is still our responsibility to take the actions we are legally permitted by the relevant Codes and under our agreements.

"We have established an audit process, an independently run whistleblower hotline, and an assistance fund for franchisee employees who have been affected by the conduct of certain of our franchisees. We have also improved screening and acceptance processes for people entering into a franchise agreement with us."

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