National parcel delivery company Couriers Please has admitted underpaying staff by $382,000.
The underpayments happened as a result of the company failing to allow paid meal breaks over eight years.
It has now entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The agreement includes a commitment to back-pay the workers and introduce systems to ensure underpayments don’t happen again.
Audit discovered the meal break breach
After a worker made an inquiry about not being provided with a 20-minute paid meal break last year, Couriers Please commenced an internal audit.
The investigation revealed the company had not provided meal breaks to 245 employees performing shift work.
The affected staff worked in freight-handling in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
Company blames new payroll system
Couriers Please admitted to breaching workplace laws, however, it blamed the error on a new electronic payroll system.
The company has subsequently back-paid $360,000 with individual amounts ranging from less than $10 to more than $19,000.
The outstanding amounts are owed to former employees who are yet to be located.
“CLOTHING RETAILER SUSSAN ACCUSED OF MAKING STAFF WORK WITHOUT PAY”
Enforceable Undertaking appropriate
Instead of prosecuting Couriers Please, Fair Work offered the company the chance to enter into the Enforceable Undertaking.
Under the terms of the agreement, Couriers Please has pledged to:
- implement stringent measures to protect their employees;
- including developing new systems to ensure future compliance;
- funding external audits over the next two years;
- and rectifying any further underpayments.
The company must also display online notices detailing its breaches in public, online and in the workplace.
Additionally, payroll and human resources staff must complete online courses and training.
Furthermore, Couriers Please must make a $50,000 contrition payment to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“TOILET BREAKS AND DRINKING WATER ARE WORKPLACE RIGHTS – COURT SAYS”
Breaks can cost big time
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says little things like paid meal breaks can add up.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but if you fail to provide appropriate breaks, it can cost you big time,” he said.
“In addition, if you make staff start 15 minutes early or finish 15 minutes late, it can add up to a huge claim over time – especially when you have hundreds of staff,” he said.
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