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Aged care workers underpaid $3.3 million

1 month ago 18

More than 9,000 aged care workers in NSW have received a cut of $3.3 million in underpaid wages from one of Australia’s major charities.

Uniting underpaid 9561 employees over a period of six years and must now pay them back, with individual payments ranging from less than $1 to $11,000.

Employees in Uniting’s Penrith facility first brought the issue to the charity’s attention, which discovered shortly after the problem was widespread.

The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) runs 70 residential aged care facilities as well as numerous other community services, and self reported the underpayment to the Fair Work Commission.

All current staff have received their back pay, and Uniting has been ordered to set up a hotline and email address for former staff who believe they are entitled to a cut of the money.

The underpayment included laundry and uniform allowances, accrual of additional annual leave for shift workers and travel allowances for community care workers.

Uniting is also required to display public, workplace and online notices detailing its workplace law breaches and apologise to workers.

A statement from the charity said it “regretted and apologises for the errors and any impact they may have had on our people”, and blamed the miscalculation on” outdated manual processes that saw different practices in different locations, as well as some errors in configuration of our key systems”.

Laundry and uniform allowance underpayments affected about 9,300 current and former employees, from February 11, 2013, to March 6, 2019, to the tune of $1.7 million.

Vehicle allowance underpayments hit roughly 1,300 employees from November 28, 2014 to September 2, 2019. The total underpayment was about $175,000.

Much of the underpayments came from unpaid leave for shift workers, who missed out on additional leave entitlements as they were not correctly identified in the system.

A number of remedies are available for the 2,353 employees affected by this, including the ability to “cash out” excess leave.

Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said aged care employees already deserved to be paid more than they were, and their underpayment was “a shameful injustice”.

“This result shows the benefit of standing up and fighting back. Spirited activists in their workplace drove this outcome and today have had a cracking victory,” he said.

“Australia needs harsher penalties for wage theft. Until we introduce real consequences for stealing from your workforce, many employers will pursue a ‘catch us if you can’ mentality.”

Anyone who believes they have been affected should contact 1300 751 145 or [email protected]

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