Australia’s Qantas airlines is currently in the process of paying back millions of dollars to hundreds of the company’s workers because the firm had previously underpaid them for as long as eight years, the country’s Fair Work Ombudsman has said.
The ombudsman said on Friday that so far, a total of $7.1 million to 638 employees of the company who were working at the company’s head office and who had been underpaid by the company between June 2011 and June 2019 has being paid by the airline.
The ombudsman, Sandra Parker, said that the issue was brought to the body’s notice by the airline itself when the company informed that there was some marketing and administrative staff who had been incorrectly paid by it and the payment made to them were not in accordance with their individual contracts. Instead the company had paid them according to their relevant enterprise agreements that covered the employees.
She said that this resulted in the employees not receiving the minimum terms of those agreements, such as overtime, minimum wages and annual leave entitlements.
The matter was decided after Qantas agreed to a legally binding agreement of repaying all of the workers the money that was under paid – along with interest on the money, as well as an additional payment of $1,000 payment by 24 April this year.
While some of the employees under this court monitored agreement will receive a few thousand dollars, there are some who would be getting significantly higher amounts, according to reports based on calculations of shown on a spreadsheet on the ombudsman’s website. It data showed that one of the workers is scheduled to be repaid a total of $141,717.66 against overtime that had not been paid by the company to the employee.
Following the repayment to the employees, the airline will then be required to made “contrition payment” to the federal government which will be 5.5. per cent of the total underpayments that had been made by it.
Then, in order to make sure all employees have received what they are due, an outside expert will then review the underpayments made by the company to the staff.
There are a large number of companies in Australia that have self reported that they have been underpaying their employees violating the country’s complex labour laws., such companies include the likes of Wesfarmers, Commonwealth Bank, Super Retail Group, Michael Hill Jewellers and the ABC.
There were no comments available from Qantas over the issue.
This news as well as the scare among investors because of the coronavirus related economic fallout for the airline sector pushed down shares of the Qantas by 15.11 per cent on Friday.
Since it all time high of $7.46 a share in December, there has been a 59 per cent drop in the stock price of the company as the company has since cut down on flights and frozen the pay package of its chief executive in its efforts to address the economic hit of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)