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WHSmith repays more than $2.2 million to underpaid workers

WHSmith has paid back more than $2.2 million it owed to workers who were underpaid, and has agreed to an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman after failing to provide employees the entitlements they were owed.

As of the beginning of October, the business had identified and paid back 1,511 staff members for payment errors made between 2013 and 2019, with individual payments ranging from $1 to $117,000.

The underpayments were found during an internal audit and self disclosed to the FWO by WHSmith. And, under the Enforceable Undertaking, the business has four months to find and pay back any remaining former workers.

According to Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker, this should example should serve as a warning to all businesses that don’t prioritise workplace compliance

“WHSmith has committed to implementing stringent measures to improve compliance and protect the rights of its workforce,” Parker said.

“This includes engaging, at its own cost, an expert auditing firm to assess the outcomes of its rectification program and audit its compliance with workplace laws over the next three years.”

WHSmith must also display public, workplace and online notices detailing the breaches, operate a hotline for the next year to allow staff to provide evidence to the FWO that actions are being taken, train managerial staff in how to avoid underpayments in future, and apologise to its workers.

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