Cotton On reimburses workers

CottonOnFashion chain, Cotton On, has reimbursed workers at its distribution centre in New Zealand, after uncovering a payments error when conducting a full audit of payroll compliance.

The retail workers union in New Zealand advised workers at the fashion group “to check their pay is correct” after discovering over $35,000 worth of underpayments at the company’s distribution centre.

First Union transport and logistics secretary, Jared Abbott, said approximately 30 distribution centre staff had their annual leave miscalculated as well as other breaches to the collective agreement.

“This isn’t the first time underpayments have happened,” he said.

“Last year the company was forced to pay out $80,000 after miscalculating leave entitlements.”

Abbott said it’s possible that the underpayments applies to all employees of Cotton On.

“We thought that would be the end of it, but this year we said over and over again to Cotton On that they were still miscalculating leave entitlements.

“On Friday the company finally acknowledged we were right,” he said. “This isn’t just a one-off mistake, it’s been an ongoing issue. It’s essentially wage theft.”

In a statement to Inside Retail, Cotton On’s New Zealand country manager, Mark Singleton, said the fashion chain uncovered an error in the interpretation of First Union’s Collective Employment  Agreement, which affected the payments of a select group of team members, including 41 who were underpaid and 10 who were overpaid.

Singleton said upon completion of the audit, the error was immediately rectified and the individuals were reimbursed as a “matter of priority.”

“We have worked closely with all of our internal departments to ensure moving forward that the payments to our team members are accurate,” he said.

“As a business, we’re incredibly proud of the strong and loyal team we have in New Zealand, and are deeply apologetic for this error.”

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