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Underpaid workers can get their money back

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By Juliano Oliveira

The giant retail Woolworths has informed that it will settle the situation of approximately 5,700 underpaid workers across Australia, over the last nine years. Team members working in supermarkets and Metro stores have not been paid in full compliance with the company’s obligations under the GRIA (General Retail Industry Award).

A website where affected former workers can access further information and leave their updated contact details has been created: team.woolworths.com.au. Current employees have at their disposal an internal online platform.

“Annual salaries for store team members are set to cover ordinary working hours and reasonable overtime. However, team members are entitled to be paid the higher of their contractual salary entitlements, or what they otherwise would have earned for actual hours worked under the GRIA. The review has found the number of hours worked, and when they were worked, were not adequately factored into the individual salary settings for some salaried store team members”, said the company in a note. More than 11 million individual records per year will be reviewed.

As the investigation goes on, Woolworths will make interim back payments before Christmas to affected Supermarkets and Metro salaried store team members for the two years reviewed to date (September 2017 – August 2019). “Woolworths Group is committed to fully rectifying these payment shortfalls and an extensive plan is in place to ensure salaried team members’ pay is correct and compliant moving forward”.

The amount of $200-300 million, before tax, is estimated as a one-off impact for remediation of all the incorrect payments.

Investigation

The Fair Work Ombudsman will investigate Woolworths’ self-disclosure and hold them to account for breaching workplace laws.

“Lately, we are seeing a disturbing number of large corporates publicly admitting that they have underpaid their staff. Some of these matters go back many years and several comprise millions of dollars owed to workers. This is simply not good enough,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.

Woolworths joins Wesfarmers, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, Super Retail Group, Michael Hill Jewellers and many others in failing to ensure that staff are receiving their lawful entitlements.

Employers and employees can contact fairwork.gov.au and 13 13 94 for free workplace advice.

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