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The Federal Court has found Supermarket chain Aldi guilty of breaching Australian employment laws. By insisting employees start work before they were due to clock on. The ruling could cost Aldo up to $10 million dollars in backpay for employee underpayments.

The SDA Union for retail, fast food and warehousing workers claimed that workers were required to complete safety checks on forklifts, check communication devices and undertake a group warm-up activity prior to starting their rostered shifts at a Sydney distribution centre. This forced employees to work an extra 10 minutes per shift which was unpaid.

Aldi refuted that it was underpaying its workers and that employees were only expected to be ready to commence work at the start of their rostered shifts.

Nevertheless, the judge Douglas Humphreys found there was a “clear implied direction” that employees had to arrive early and undertake stipulated tasks, and that a consistent failure to comply would lead to disciplinary action.

“There was no personal benefit to the employee in the activities carried out. Each was to the benefit of the employer,” said Humphreys.

“In these circumstances, the court is satisfied that the activities carried out constitute work.”

The company said it respected the court’s decision and will backpay affected employees.

“We are reviewing the implication of the court’s decision on other employees across our business and will seek to apply the principles of the court’s decision fairly to any other affected employees,” an Aldi spokesperson said.

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