7-Eleven has appointed former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) boss Allan Fels to lead what it calls an independent panel into claims of underpayment.
But the former head of the national consumer watchdog admitted the panel will have limited powers to investigate 7-Eleven franchises.
This week, Four Corners revealed allegations of staff exploitation, involving foreign students working longer hours than their visas permit.
Mr Fels confirmed the Independent Franchisee Review and Staff Claims Panel will focus on compensating underpaid workers.
“The principal focus is on compensation, on making up, as quickly as possible, underpay,” Mr Fels said.
“Whether the underpay was just paying a below award rate or whether it was making people work say 40 hours and paying them for 20.
“We’ll be looking very hard into that question and wanting their pay to be made up.”
He said 7-Eleven has agreed to compensate exploited workers.
“We’ll be making extensive efforts including advertising, but other means also to encourage those who believe they’ve been underpaid to contact the panel,” Mr Fels said.
“Then we’ll make a determination and 7-Eleven has said it will make good any underpayment.”
The investigation head said the purpose of the investigation is not to revise 7-Eleven’s model or look into visa issues.
“We are not there to redesign the whole 7-Eleven system from top to bottom,” he said.
“It’s not to look into visa questions and that kind of thing, but any evidence that comes forward about anyone being underpaid, the aim is for us to make up there, get their pay made up,” he said.
Despite claims made to the ABC by a franchisee of United Petroleum that underpayments are widespread, United will not be not be included in the inquiry.
“It’s not meant to be a wider enquiry into underpayment even though there is obviously issues around Australia with probably quite a few franchisees,” Mr Fels said.