Petrol Drive-Off

Reporter: Andrea Burns

It's costing the petrol industry millions. And it's a cost, staff claim, some business owners are now choosing to pass on to their lowest paid employees. "Ryan what do you fear will be the consequence of speaking to us? I reckon I'll probably end up losing my job. So why talk? cos it's just not right" Service Station worker Ryan claims he was made to fork out between five and seventy dollars from his own pocket, after strangers did runners. Up to two thirds of his day's pay, gone.

WA Fair Employment Advocate, Helen Creed has launched an investigation. "We are looking as to whether we can prosecute anybody, because it is illegal under the minimum conditions of employment act, obviously if we are able to prosecute then that will be public and that will name and shame"

Ryan claims he was told if he accepted iou's and customers didn't pay, he would - same if he didn't get registrations down of vehicles that took off without paying. "The first time it happened to me, I didn't get the number plate down cos I wasn't expecting it at all one minute I'm standing around serving people, the next minute there's a figure on my screen with no car to accompany it it's just waiting to be cashed off and there's no-one handing over the cash"

Helen Creed says money can't be taken out of pay slips without written permission. And it could be considered unreasonable for employees to have to note every registration of every car entering a busy service station.

The Motor Trades Association's Peter Fitzpatrick says drive offs a multi million dollar problem for the industry. Still, he believes operators' docking pay are in the minority, and says it'd have to be written into a workplace agreement to stand up. "We write workplace agreements here for our members and we certainly in any of the agreements we've written, we haven't included a condition that any drive off is paid for by the employee, it just is not something that we believe is standard practice or fair practice in the industry" Helen Creed's put the big oil companies and their franchisees on notice. Ryan meanwhile, hopes speaking out doesn't cost him his job.

Console operators who are concerned about this practice are urged to contact the Fair Employment Advocate - 1300 790 636