Tasmania’s largest aged care operator, Southern Cross Care (Tasmania) is back-paying 1,708 current and former employees a total of $6.87 million, including $5,806,756 in wages and entitlements, plus $313,591 in superannuation and $754,181 in interest. After identifying fundamental errors in its payroll and human resources systems.
The not-for-profit organisation, which operates aged care facilities and offers home and community care services, is also required to provide the Fair Work Ombudsman with evidence of systems and processes it has put in place to ensure future compliance; commission workplace relations training for human resources, payroll and rostering staff; write to all underpaid employees; and display workplace notices detailing its contraventions.
Whilst overtime entitlements accounted for the majority of total underpayments, employees were also underpaid wages for ordinary hours, penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work, as well as paid meal breaks and shift penalties and allowances, including sleepover allowance.
The underpayments were under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 and applicable Enterprise Agreements.
The errors included failing to have agreements in place with part-time staff to work additional hours at ordinary rates of pay. This meant that employees were entitled to – but not paid for – overtime for these additional hours.
Southern Cross Care (Tasmania) also failed to recognise that shift-workers without written agreements were entitled to be paid from the start of their first shift to the end of their final shift each day, rather than just the hours worked during the separate shifts.
The underpaid employees performed work in locations across Tasmania including Hobart, Launceston, Somerset and Low Head. Underpayments occurred between 2015 and 2022.
Most underpaid employees were part-time aged care workers, nurses and community care workers who performed shift work, although full-time and casual employees were also affected. Some cleaners, laundry and maintenance staff were also underpaid.
Individual back-payments range from less than $1 to more than $220,000. Six workers were underpaid more than $100,000. The average back-payment is just over $4,000.