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Seven-Eleven Japan admits to underpaying staff

Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd.'s Seven-Eleven Japan admitted that it underpaid employees for years because of miscalculations, Reuters reported Dec. 10, citing a company statement.

Japan's labor standards inspectors alerted the convenience store chain in September, which traced the errors back to 2012.

The company said it will pay about ¥490 million, or $4.5 million, in back wages and compensation to more than 30,000 workers in 8,000 stores. Seven-Eleven Japan has apologized to its franchisees and employees for the problem, the company reportedly said.

The Nikkei Asian Review in its same-day report said the errors may have gone back to the 1970s when the franchise was established, but company records only go as far back as 2012. Further, the Nikkei said Seven-Eleven Japan was made aware of the error in October 2001 but did not publicly disclose it or reimbursed employees.

The admission came amid an ongoing labor shortage in the country. In May, Seven & i announced plans to overhaul its domestic business after it insisted on maintaining its 24-hour model, which sparked concern among franchise owners. The company also trialed shorter business hours and cashierless stores to deal with difficulties in finding staff members.

As of Dec. 9, US$1 was equivalent to 108.60 Japanese yen.