Optus backpays over $7.8 million to underpaid employees

(Source: Bigstock)

Optus Retail is back-paying 3744 current and former employees it underpaid over $7.8 million.

The backpayment includes more than $5.4 million in wages and entitlements and more than $2.4 million in superannuation and interest.

Optus hired these employees as retail consultants and store managers around Australia between January 2014 and March 2020.

In April 2021, the telecommunications company self-reported the underpayments to the Fair Work Ombudsman following an internal review.

The review found that Optus failed to undertake annual reconciliations to ensure that employees were not paid less under the enterprise agreement and to pay retail consultants for work performed before or after their rostered start and finish times.

The company also failed to pay part-time and casual employees for a minimum of three hours per shift and to apply a higher classification and pay rate for retail consultants who engaged in higher duties like opening and closing a store and regularly managing the store in case the manager is absent.

In addition, the company did not correctly calculate the mandated six-monthly reconciliations for employees who worked in stores with extended trading hours.

The company has already completed the back payment to a majority of the employees.

Meanwhile, Optus also signed an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman that includes contrition payments.

“Under the enforceable undertaking, Optus Retail has committed to putting in place stringent measures to ensure all its workers are paid correctly,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth.

“These measures include undertaking another review of employee entitlements covering January 2020 through to July 2023, and commissioning independent audits of its future compliance with workplace laws over the next two years.”

In compliance with the undertaking, Optus must deliver an initial contrition payment of $450,000 to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund and a further contrition payment equal to 4 per cent of the total underpayments found in the next review.

Optus must also provide the Fair Work Ombudsman with proof of systems and processes it has implemented to ensure future compliance.

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