MJ Bale calls for simplification of modern award

MJ Bale founder and chief executive Matt Jensen has spoken out on the modern retail award, after becoming one of many retailers to inadvertently underpay staff due to the complexity of the payment standard.

The company said it paid out approximately half a million dollars to compensate staff who were underpaid over the last few years.

The underpayment was flagged when a retail staff member queried their wages, prompting a review.

“We are currently working with the Australian Retail Association and many retailers would welcome reform to the retail awards to simplify what is a complex system for everybody,” Jensen said in a statement to Inside Retail.

“Integrity is a core principle of MJ Bale and we believe we have acted in accordance with our values.

“When we received a query from a retail staff member on wages we reviewed it, worked quickly to rectify it, then proactively reviewed the historical wages of all our full- and
part-time staff – including ex-employees.”

PwC assisted the menswear brand with its calculations, and will work with MJ Bale to ensure its systems are compliant moving forward.

“MJ Bale prides itself on the care of our 300 staff – people are our number one asset – and we are committed to best practice in all aspects of employee relations,” Jensen said.

As Jensen noted, many retailers have fallen afoul of payment terms outlined in the modern retail award. Michael Hill, Super Retail Group, Caltex and Lush, among others, have announced payroll mistakes recently.

The National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb has previously said the award is too complex, estimating that 40 per cent of companies in the retail, fast food and hospitality industries had some level of non-compliance.

“The industrial relation system in Australia is incredibly complicated, and small-medium size and large businesses actively deal with it every day,” Lamb said. 

“If you aren’t checking your payroll systems, this is definitely the time to make sure you’re definitely getting it right.”

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