The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research recently undertook a review of its payroll systems and determined that some employees had been underpaid in accordance with applicable modern awards.
The Institute notified the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) of this situation and has since advised the FWO that it had fully rectified the underpayments with affected employees.
The Institute has now entered into an enforceable undertaking with the FWO, including a commitment to ensure ongoing compliance with Commonwealth legislation.
The Institute expresses its sincerest regrets and apologises to all affected employees.
The rectified payments include payments to 343 current and former casual employees from 1 January 2014 to 13 October 2019 totalling $306,962 and to 80 current and former full-time and part-time staff totalling $43,360. As outlined in the enforceable undertaking documentation, these underpayments had arisen as a result of the Institute continuing to apply the ‘WEHI award’ instead of the relevant modern awards, on the misunderstanding that the WEHI award was more generous.
The Institute continues to welcome enquiries from any current or past Institute employees who have further queries relating to their employment.
Following a recent reconciliation, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has identified that some casual employees have been underpaid for certain shifts at the Institute from 1 January 2014 to 10 October 2019.
The discrepancy occurred after the two awards that used to cover Institute employees terminated on 1 January 2014, and the Institute then failed to apply the terms and conditions of the applicable modern awards.
We are sorry for this error and apologise to all employees who are affected.
The Institute has engaged external advisers to undertake data analysis and calculate back payments for all casual employees. We have identified that 361 current and previous casual employees have been affected and will be back paying approximately $480,000, plus interest and superannuation.
The Institute has reported this matter to the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Australian Taxation Office, and we will co-operate with them as required in the rectification process.
We are updating employment conditions for all employees and have introduced new systems and processes to ensure all employees are paid correctly.