Parliamentary staff have been underpaid by the Department of Finance over a period of four years.
The Department self-reported the wage theft to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The underpayments involve 60 employees, however the Department did not reveal how much is owed.
Parliamentary staff underpaid
The Department emailed staff earlier this week informing them it had failed to pay proper wages outlined in the relevant award to workers across two pay levels.
“We are auditing the pay of all EOA-01 and EOA-02 staff employed during the relevant periods over the past four years, including former employees.
“And we have engaged KPMG to verify our proposed approach and to certify all payments to staff are correct.
“We expect this audit will be completed and back pay will be made to all affected staff by the end of the current financial year.”
The underpayments happened as a result of the interaction of the Australian Government Industry Award and the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement.
The Department did not confirm when it became aware of the issue.
Union ‘seriously concerned’
The Community and Public Sector Union said it is “seriously concerned” about the underpayments.
In an email to staff, it vowed to fight for “every cent” of owed money to be back-paid.
“These underpayments have seen staff who are already at the lowest pay levels paid less than the award rate.
They are predominantly women, and work hard every day assisting members of the public.”
No excuse for wage theft
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says there is no excuse for wage theft.
“It is extraordinary that a government department that deals with all sorts of complexities, such as the administration of money, cannot get its wages right,” he said.
“Whether it’s Woolworths or the Department of Finance, there is no excuse for wage theft.
“These workers deserve to be back-paid in full, plus interest.”
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