Aged care nurses, allied health workers and support staff working for Aged Care Services Australia Group Pty Ltd (ACSAG) are to be back-paid $4.8 million after their overtime rates were underpaid for at least six years.
ACSAG found they had inadvertently underpaid their workers after reviewing its pay practices in November 2014. They discovered that 4,850 current and former staff had been underpaid a total $4.782 million for the overtime they had worked between November 1, 2008 and November 30, 2014.
2,112 current and former employees with underpayments of under $5,000 have already been paid back approximately $1.4 million. Those who were underpaid over $10,000 will be offered an extra $500 to put towards advice on the best way to receive payment.
Japara Healthcare Ltd, ACSAG’s parent company, took their findings of underpayments to the Fair Work Ombudsman in December 2014. FWO’s Natalie James says that, although she does not believe these contraventions were deliberate, it is of concern that a failure of this magnitude happened to a large company.
“It will serve as an example in the health and aged care industry, and to larger corporate employers more generally, of the risks of inadequate governance and payroll systems and the benefits of early co-operation with us,” Ms James said.
Japara and ACSAG have signed an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO, which will see them, among other things, engage independent auditors, randomly check pay packets of 5 per cent of their workforce for the next three years, donate $20,000 to Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation, and place a public note in The Australian describing what went wrong and apologising.