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Woolworths Under Paid Staff By $300m

Woolworths has apologised to nearly 5700 workers after the nations largest supermarket chain confessed to not paying the correct industry award to salaried employees, resulting in roughly $300 million of unpaid wages.

The revelation was reported today by The Australian after Woolworths uncovered the payment issues in a review following the implementation of a new enterprise agreement.

Inconsistencies in award payments for several salaried store team members were identified, revealing specific working hour awards were not ‘adequately factored into the individual salary settings for some salaried store team members’.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said in a statement, the company prides itself on putting the team first, ‘in this case [Woolworths] have let them down’.

It comes after the supermarket chain posted a 7.1% growth in its first quarter, driven primarily by improved online sales, and promotional offers.

Woolworths highest priority will now be to resolve the current award issue, and according to Mr Banducci, ‘to ensure it that it doesn’t happen again’.

However, with Woolworths now joining Bunnings, Michael Hill and 7 Eleven in underpaying staff members, there appears to be a systematic issue occurring within chain retailers across Australia.

Fortunately, new rules will come into effect from March next year, requiring companies to conduct regular pay reconciliations for annualised salaried employees under 19 industry awards.

The Fair Work Commission is set to introduce new rules from March 2020 that would mandate employers record salaried workers’ hours and unpaid breaks when they are covered by an award.

Current estimations of the unpaid awards are expected to range between $200-$300 million, before tax, with the company planned to provide an update at the half-yearly results in February next year.

The first interim back payments will be made prior to the Christmas break, with full entitlements, interest and superannuation to be made as soon as possible.

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