Optus To Reimburse Retail Employees $7.8 Million

Optus Store

In Telco news today, Optus has announced back payments totaling over $7.8 million to rectify underpayments to its retail workers across Australia.

The affected employees, including retail consultants and store managers, were underpaid various entitlements between January 2014 and March 2020.

The underpayments stemmed from inadequate payroll and timekeeping systems, as well as deficiencies in human resources and governance practices within Optus.

These shortcomings resulted in employees not receiving their full lawful entitlements under the Optus Retail Agreement 2013 and relevant industry awards.

Image via Optus

Optus took proactive measures by self-reporting the underpayments to the Fair Work Ombudsman after an internal review in April 2021.

The company has since initiated back payments to affected employees and signed an enforceable undertaking (EU) with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure compliance with workplace laws.

Affected employees were deprived of various entitlements, including base rates of pay, weekend and public holiday loadings, meal allowances, overtime rates, and annual and personal leave entitlements.

Optus Retail’s initial back payments cover 3,744 current and former employees, highlighting the widespread impact of the underpayments across the company’s workforce.

The underpayments amounted to significant financial losses for the affected employees, with individual payments ranging from $11 to approximately $34,000, averaging around $2,100.

Optus has disbursed more than $7.8 million in back payments, encompassing both wages and entitlements, as well as superannuation and interest owed to the affected employees.

In addition to the initial payments, Optus is conducting thorough reviews and independent audits of its wage payments and compliance with workplace laws.

The company is committed to identifying and rectifying any further instances of underpayment.

Under the EU with the Fair Work Ombudsman, Optus Retail has pledged to implement stringent measures to ensure ongoing compliance with workplace laws.

These measures include regular reviews of employee entitlements and independent audits of compliance over the next two years.

The involvement of the Fair Work Ombudsman underscores the importance of regulatory oversight in ensuring that companies fulfill their obligations to their employees.

The Optus case serves as a cautionary tale for employers, highlighting the importance of robust payroll and governance systems to prevent underpayments and ensure compliance with workplace laws.

Failure to comply with workplace laws can have significant legal repercussions for companies, including financial penalties and damage to their reputation.

In conclusion, Optus’ acknowledgment of the underpayment issue and its proactive steps to rectify the situation demonstrate a commitment to accountability and compliance with workplace laws.

Moving forward, Optus’ ongoing efforts to review and improve its payroll and governance systems will be crucial in ensuring that similar underpayment issues do not arise in the future.

Author

  • David Everson

    Telecommunications & Technology enthusiast, I have worked multiple years in the telco and tech space, so have a strong passion towards delivering terrific insights.

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