Woolworths Group has apologised “unreservedly” after a review found that approximately 5700 salaried staff working in Woolworths Supermarkets and Metro stores have not been paid in full compliance with the group’s obligations under the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA).
The group commenced a review of pay earlier this year after a new enterprise agreement was implemented for its supermarkets and Metro stores. That review highlighted “an inconsistency in pay” for a number of salaried store team members compared to team members paid under the new EA.
In a statement Woolworths said: “Annual salaries for store team members are set to cover ordinary working hours and reasonable overtime. However, team members are entitled to be paid the higher of their contractual salary entitlements, or what they otherwise would have earned for actual hours worked under the GRIA. The review has found the number of hours worked, and when they were worked, were not adequately factored into the individual salary settings for some salaried store team members.
“Woolworths Group is committed to fully rectifying these payment shortfalls and an extensive plan is in place to ensure salaried team members’ pay is correct and compliant moving forward.”
Woolworths said that as a result of the findings that the review is being extended to all businesses across the group in Australia “to ensure that all relevant award requirements have been met for salaried team members”.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said: “As a business we pride ourselves on putting our team first, and in this case we have let them down. We unreservedly apologise. The highest priority for Woolworths Group right now is to address this issue, and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
The group said that its initial modelling assumes that the problem could go back as far as 2010 and so the estimated cost for remediation is expected to be in the range of $200-300 million (before tax).
In terms of the timetable for paying back staff for lost earnings, those affected will receive their full entitlements, including back payments with interest and superannuation contributions, as soon as possible. Interim back payments will be made before Christmas to affected Supermarkets and Metro salaried store team members for the two years reviewed to date (September 2017 – August 2019).