The Australian Red Cross has admitted underpaying thousands of current and former staff millions of dollars dating back several years.
According to documents obtained by The Guardian, the organisation has set aside $20 million to back-pay the workers.
A “remuneration compliance project team” discovered the underpayments during a payroll audit.
Chief Executive Judy Slatyer subsequently apologised for the wage theft.
“I am very sorry mistakes have been made in paying staff and we are taking urgent steps to fix this and pay everyone their entitlements,” she said.
She confirmed to The Guardian that 800 current staff are owed an average of $1,800 a year over several years.
“We are still calculating what this means for past employees,” Ms Slatyer said.
“We are undertaking detailed analysis, reviewing old databases, paper files and also individual records.”
The Red Cross has now engaged auditors Ernst & Young in order to help sort out the mess.
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at IR Claims, said he is unsurprised the charity is desperate to rectify the underpayments.
“The penalties for systemic underpayment of wages are huge,” he said.
“Currently, serious contraventions attract a maximum $630,000 penalty for a corporation per contravention.
“In this case, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of contraventions.”
The charity, which constantly calls for donations from the public, is also facing questions about expenses.
One former department head allegedly ran up a $125,000 phone bill while on a private overseas holiday.
In February and March this year, two senior executives spent $318,775 on travel.
Staff incurred more than $100,000 in traffic fines:
- 77 for speeding;
- 17 for running red lights;
- 28 for parking offences; and also
- 18 for unpaid tolls.
Furthermore, between June 2017 and April 2018, 102 crashes involving Red Cross vehicles cost the charity $102,000 in insurance and repairs.
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