The Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has issued a media release about it commencing legal action against the Queensland based Super Retail Group Limited (SRGL).
The FWO investigated a self-report from SRGL and found that a sample group of 146 employees were underpaid approximately $1.14 million for their work between January 2017 and March 2019. The FWO alleges that most of the underpayments were the result of SRGL’s subsidiaries paying salaried employees annual salaries that failed to cover their minimum lawful entitlements, given they generally performed significant amounts of overtime work.
The FWO also alleges that SRGL did not properly assess the entitlements of affected employees and so they did not properly compensate the employees in the self-audit and reporting process.
The FWO stated that holding companies must have thorough governance measures in place to promote compliance across their subsidiaries, and that they must act immediately to rectify any problems found, referring to the 8 month delay in SRGL acting on their suspicions that their subsidiaries were in breach of their obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009.
The FWO is seeking court orders against SRGL and its four subsidiaries to rectify outstanding entitlements allegedly owed to the 146 sample employees. Additionally, it is seeking penalties that could exceed $1m.
The takeout for employers is, if you are paying salaries with an expectation that employees will work additional unpaid hours, you must monitor the hours worked to ensure that the salary at all times exceeds the minimum entitlements the affected employees are entitled to under a relevant industrial instrument or if one doesn’t apply, the minimum standards set out in the Fair Work Act 2009. Regular audits and maintenance of employment records are essential to ensure ongoing compliance with your employment obligations.
Murdoch Lawyers can assist you with audits and advice, as well as training for managers on operating successfully in a compliant framework. Contact our experienced Employment Lawyer Michelle Cowan if you need assistance.
This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in brief and general terms and should be viewed as broad guidance only. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render advice. No one should rely on the information contained in this publication without first obtaining professional advice relevant to their own specific situation.