Service station chain, Westside Petroleum facing court action

By Nick Hall | 15 Apr 2019 View comments

Independent service station chain, Westside Petroleum is facing legal action following allegations of underpayment.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) alleges that the chain, which operates franchised sites underpaid 22 employees $62,393 across regional New South Wales and Victoria.

Three members of the Westside Petroleum management staff will face the Federal Circuit Court. General manager Patrick Riad, company accountant Francesco Leraci and area manager Shahzaib Khawaja ­are alleged to have been involved in the company’s breaches.

According to the FWO, employees at 12 petrol stations were underpaid between July 2015 and May 2016. Despite having a vast number of franchised locations, all the sites identified by the FWO are company-operated, with no allegations against any franchisee.

Sandra Parker, FWO said inspectors audited Westside Petroleum following several requests for assistance from employees.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman has no tolerance for the underpayment of any workers. We encourage any workers with concerns about their pay to contact us for free advice,” Parker said.

Employees were allegedly told they would be paid a net rate of $18 per hour, with payroll staff the paying gross weekly amounts generally equating to $18 per hour net. This scheme ultimately led to underpayments relating to casual weekday, weekend, public holiday and overtime rates under the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award.

Workers on adult rates under this Award were entitled to gross hourly wages of $25.05 on weekdays, $32.56 on weekends and public holidays and an additional $14.21 for overtime hours.

“It is unlawful for employers to pay their employees low, flat rates that undercut minimum Award wage rates, and those who rely on an unlawful ‘going rate’ can be left with a major back-payment bill and face significant penalties,” Parker said.

Westside Petroleum faces penalties of up to $54,000 per contravention, with Riad, Leraci and Khawaja facing penalties of up to $10,800 per contravention.

All employees have since been back-paid in full.