You trust your employer to pay you correctly, especially if you are working for a large corporation with skilled and experienced individuals leading their finance teams. With Woolworths being the latest in a long string of high profile companies reporting significant underpayment to staff, often over a long period of time, how much can you trust that you have been paid correctly?
Firstly, most employers do the right thing by their staff. Of those that have self-reported errors, most of these have been detected during an internal audit process and often are due to errors made in the interpretation of the relevant award or the EBA which is based on the award structure.
While the introduction of the Modern Award scheme came into effect on January 1st, 2010, the practical implementation could be phased in over a 5 year period. The modern award scheme was designed to streamline the multitude of different awards, with the same role often classified differently depending on the actual award followed.
Although the scheme has now been simplified, the actual level corresponding to an employee’s experience can still be an area for confusion and error. Similarly, allowances and overtime rates can be mis-interpreted.
What should you do if you think you have been underpaid? The first step is to approach the manager responsible for the payroll at your company and ask for an explanation of the calculations used to determine your pay. It may be a simple mistake in calculation or interpretation and easily rectified with back pay. If you are still not satisfied contact Fair Work Australia (www.fairworkaustralia.gov.au) or phone 13 13 94 for advice. If you are a member of a union, your state office may be able to assist or contact the Australian Unions hotline 1300 486 466. Employers can also contact Fairwork Australia, their industry peak body or employment advice consultancy for assistance with award interpretation.
In any pay query have your details handy and discuss the situation without emotion. Remember that mistakes happen – the person responsible for payroll is human just like you!