On The Run Ltd service station ordered to pay staff $2.3m after Fair Work Ombudsman investigation

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A popular service station chain has been ordered to pay back its staff about $2.3m in annual leave entitlements.

On the Run Pty Ltd (OTR) was found to have failed to pay about 1500 employees properly their entitled earnings.

The Fair Work Ombudsman launched an investigation into the service station and convenience store operator chain, after employees inquired about their employer complying with workplace laws.

The chain is one of South Australia’s largest private employers and also operates in parts of Victoria and Western Australia.

The investigation revealed OTR’s failure to accurately identify employees as shift workers, resulting in annual leave accrual entitlements not being met.

The operator conducted a full review that found 1524 employees had not received their full annual leave entitlements between July 2018 and February 2023.

Shift workers are entitled to five weeks of annual leave per year, compared to the four weeks of non-shift workers.

Following the investigation, OTR is working on back paying 934 former employees more than $975,000, including $792,685 in annual leave plus $138,720 in leave loading and $48,415 in interest.

The regulator confirmed most of affected employees, including all who OTR have found to date, have already been back paid.

The company has since signed an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with the Ombudsman, which requires the remaining back-payments to be made by July 2024.

Fair Work Ombudsman spokeswoman Anna Booth said the company had co-operated with the investigation and were committed to rectifying underpayments and making changes to ensure the mistake was not repeated.

“Under the Enforceable Undertaking, On the Run has committed to implementing stringent measures to ensure all its workers are paid correctly,” Ms Booth said.

“These measures include commissioning, at their own cost, an independent auditor to check it is appropriately meeting annual leave entitlements.”

Ms Booth said the matter serves as a warning to all employers about what is at stake if they fail to correctly categorise their employees.

“In this matter, a failure to correctly identify employees as shift workers led to long-term breaches, and significant staff underpayments and rectification costs,” Ms Booth said.

“Large employers need to place a much higher priority on having systems and processes in place that ensure employees’ full lawful entitlements are met, year-in, year-out.”

The company has also completed crediting more than 43,900 hours of annual leave to 590 current employees, worth about $1.3m in entitlements including leave loading.

Employees affected by the breaches were full-time or part-time workers, who mainly worked as console operators or roadhouse attendants.

Most of the affected employees worked in metropolitan and regional South Australia, including Adelaide, Bordertown, Ceduna, Port Lincoln, Port Augusta, Murray Bridge and Mount Gambier.

There were 44 employees who worked in Victoria who were underpaid about $40,000, including interest, across Horsham, Mildura, Ararat and Traralgon.

While in Perth in Western Australia, the company had underpaid 15 about $8600, including interest.

Under the EU, the company must also make a $150,000 contrition payment to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue fund.

The company must also engage an independent provider to operate an employee hotline for three months at their own cost and to write to affected staff to tell them the EU has begun.

Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance.