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University investigation into widespread underpayment confirms casual staff disproportionately affected

Staff will then be notified of the status of their claim and repayments will commence in Semester 2.

Image credit: McGregor Coxall

On Monday, the University provided an all-staff update on its ongoing analysis of underpayment. 

Last August, the University admitted to underpaying staff approximately $8.8 million. PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) were employed to comprehensively analyse staff underpayments from January 2014 onwards, to identify instances where staff may have been paid incorrectly.

The audit has confirmed that the majority of underpayments relate to the miscalculation of overtime and minimum engagement entitlements for casual and professional staff. Several academic and non-casual professional staff were also affected.

In an all-staff email, Vice-Chancellor Stephen Garton confirmed the quantum of payments will be determined by mid 2021. Staff will then be notified of the status of their claim and repayments will commence in Semester 2. The University will not seek to recover any overpayments made to staff. 

“We regret that this error has occurred and will continue our work to identify and rectify any amounts which might be payable by the University as swiftly as possible, and communicate with impacted staff throughout the process,” a University spokesperson told Honi. “Since the initial review was completed, we have already put in place a number of system and behavioural changes including improved exception reporting, improved timesheeting functionality, and further guidance to managers and staff on entitlements provided by the Enterprise Agreement to mitigate any potential ongoing issues.”

The statement maintained the University’s denial of “wage theft”, attributing miscalculation to “payment errors”. Earlier in March, the Senate Inquiry into unlawful underpayment highlighted several instances in which the University was made aware of systematic underpayment.

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