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Qantas Admits To Embarrassing Underpayment Bungle

Qantas admits to embarrassing underpayment bungle

Qantas has admitted to underpaying 55 workers thousands of dollars after it discovered it had employed them under individual contracts instead of enterprise agreements.

The embarrassing bungle resulted in the workers being shortchanged an average of $8,000 a year over several years.

But Qantas isn’t the only company to admit to underpaying its workers this week.

Today, the Super Retail group, which owns brands like Rebel Sport and Supercheap Auto, admitted to underpaying its store managers $32 million over the past six years by not applying overtime rates correctly.

The Qantas underpayments

Qantas said it had wrongly employed 220 staff on individual contracts, instead of the relevant enterprise agreement.

The result was that 55 workers were underpaid an average of $8,000 over several years.

The workers will receive what they are owed, plus interest, in addition to an additional one off payment of $1,000.

The classification stuff up also resulted in 165 workers being overpaid on average of $12,000 a year.

Those workers will not be made to repay the money.

Leslie Grant from Qantas apologised for the pay error.

“There was never an intention to underpay people, as shown by the fact that three-quarters of people who were affected by the error are financially better off,” she said.

‘The fact that some employees have been negatively impacted is frankly embarrassing.”

Super Retail underpayments

Super Retail, the owner of Rebel Sport, Supercheap Auto, Macpac, Rays Outdoors and BCF retail stores, has also discovered significant underpayments involving its store managers.

After it reviewed its employment arrangements, the company said it discovered that it owed its store managers $32 million in back pay.

The underpayments were the result of incorrectly applying overtime rates.

The company has set aside the $32 million to back pay the workers, in addition to a further $11 million to cover interest payments and payroll tax.

“We are very disappointed that we have let these team members down and not met our standards, and we apologise to each person affected unreservedly,” CEO Steve Birtles said.

Super Retail boss Peter Birtles apologised for the underpayments.

The bottom line

Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, has represented a number of employees who have been underpaid as a result of payroll errors by employers.

“It beggars belief that major companies that employ thousands of people, and have entire payroll departments full of trained bean counters, can make mistakes like this,” he said.

“If a worker is being short changed $8,000 a year, that can make a big difference to their budget at the end of each week.

“I’m pleased that both Qantas and Super Retail are making arrangements to back pay their workers, including interest, but really, there is no excuse for this sort of thing happening in the first place.”


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