How to guard against employee wage theft

  • Public interest in employee underpayments has grown following recent headlines.
  • To mitigate the risk of employee underpayments, it is important to take pre-emptive action
  • Being able to show a trail of due diligence, record keeping and vigilance is vital not just for protecting your bottom line, but for your reputation, staff loyalty and customer trust.

Some of Australia’s most trusted brands and organisations have been in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons of late, owing to employee underpayments. ‘Wage theft’, as these incidents have become known, are proving costly on many fronts, by eroding companies’ reputations and finances, as well as negatively impacting staff loyalty and consumer trust.

Woolworths, for example, has underpaid approximately 5,700 employees over the past nine years, with repayments expected to cost up to $300 million1. Australia’s biggest bank, The Commonwealth Bank, has underpaid approximately 8,000 employees with repayments costing $4.8 million. On a separate occasion, the bank underpaid 7,000 employees $22 million in superannuation entitlements.2

Meanwhile, MAdE Establishment, the former MasterChef judge George Calombaris’s hospitality group, underpaid approximately 500 employees totalling $7.8 million in wages and superannuation.3

Preventing, managing and adequately responding to employee underpayments involves a sophisticated suite of skillsets, covering legal, forensic data analytics, forensic auditing, and payroll system and application specialists.

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