David Jones, Politix underpay 7000 employees

(Source: Bigstock)

Australian retailers David Jones and men’s fashion company Cicero Clothing (trading as Politix) are set to pay $1.9 million and $2.1 million respectively to 7000 underpaid employees.

The issue was first reported to Fairwork Ombudsman (FWO) in September 2020 when failures in manual payroll processes resulted in the underpayment of minimum wages, evening, weekend and public holiday penalties, overtime rates and other entitlements.

Between November 2016 and December 2020, Politix underpaid about 850 employees with around $2.06 million in wages, plus $45,000 in superannuation.

David Jones underpaid 2800 employees $480,000 in wages and $1.4 million in superannuation between April 2014 and September 2020.

Individual wage underpayments were up to $22,956 at Politix and $12,576 at David Jones.

At Politix, underpaid staff worked in all Australian states and territories in a range of roles including as managers and retail workers, while at David Jones the impacted workers were in women’s apparel roles, online sales, management and logistics.

Although a large majority of back payments have been made, the retailers have each signed an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with FWO.

FWO’s Sandra Parker said the EUs were “appropriate” as the retailers had displayed a “firm commitment” to rectifying all underpayments and changing their practices.

“This matter is another reminder to employers to place a high priority on ensuring their staff receive all their lawful entitlements.

“Insufficient annualised salaries have become a persistent problem in many Australian workplaces, and breaches – if not quickly found and fixed – can lead to a substantial back-payment bill.”

The EU also includes interest of around $60,000 for David Jones and $409,000 for Politix, which is to be met by April this year.

Widespread underpayments, though of lesser amounts, have been uncovered in other Country Road Group brands such as Trenery, Witchery Fashions, Country Road, Mimco and CRG Logistics.

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