Underpaid DEWR staff still waiting for their money
The Department of Employment and Workplace
has not yet reimbursed 99 staff who were underpaid over $60,000 in wages,
despite the underpayment being discovered more than four months ago.
It has so far cost
the Department almost $200,000 in legal and consultant fees to rectify the
by Senator Michaelia Cash in a Senate Estimates hearing Department Secretary Ms
Natalie James revealed staff could expect the money in this week’s pay run.
Ms James revealed
the total amount to be repaid to the 99 staff was $62,926.52, which includes an
indexation payment. The average repayment was $635.25, while the highest
repayment is $4051.07.
She also revealed
that legal advice about the underpayments had cost the Department $119,625 so
far and eternal consultants were paid a further $75,866 for data analysis.
Ms James blamed the
underpayment on the machinery of Government changes following the 2022
election. She told the hearing the “arrangements for pay and conditions became
a little more complex as a result of the machinery of Government change.”
Ms James said she
was told of the underpayment on June 15 after an internal query identified an
issue on June 5. She informed Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony
Burke on July 25. The Staff were told on August 11.
Senator Cash said:
“This has been quite an extraordinary episode. If the Department responsible
Employment and Workplace Relations struggles to pay its staff correctly what
hope do small businesses have?’’
“Ms James admitted
that complexity was the issue – which is exactly the challenge facing tens of
thousands of small and medium businesses in this country,’’ Senator Cash said.
“This Government is
only making the Workplace Relations system more complex and confusing with
their radical industrial relations laws,’’ she said.
businesses do not have the resources to pay lawyers and consultants tens of
thousands of dollars to sort through such issues,’’ Senator Cash said.
“It is a most
graphic example of why this nations’ workplace laws need to be simplified not
complicated further,’’ she said.