Supermarket giant Woolworths has admitted to underpaying 5,700 staff members by as much as $300 million over the past decade, the ABC is reporting.
The news came in the form of a statement to the ASX, Woolworths said it had failed to pay salaries in full, as mandated by the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA). According to the ABC, “the underpayment emerged when the implementation of a new enterprise agreement highlighted ‘an inconsistency in pay’ under the old agreement for some workers.”
Woolworths has estimated the impact of compensation as a result of the underpayments will total anywhere between $200 million to $300 million before tax. The company says it has an ‘extensive plan’ to remedy the underpayments, and is in the process of reviewing up to 11 million individual records per year.
Underpaid staff will receive full entitlements, including back pay - with interest - and superannuation. For now, Woolworths will make ‘interim back payments’ before Christmas this year to employees underpaid between September 2017 and August 2019; a time period already audited by the company.
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci has issued a public statement saying that “we unreservedly apologise,” and that “the highest priority for Woolworths Group right now is to address this issue, and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Woolworths has contacted the Fair Work Ombudsman to report the issue, and is working with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and law firm Ashurst to assist with the company’s internal review. The company has created a website for affected workers which you can access here.