About 20,000 current and former Woolworths employees will receive $ 2,500 compensation after the supermarket giant settled a class action lawsuit over underpayments that will cost it $ 50 million.
The law firm Adero Law in Canberra filed the class action lawsuit in late 2019 after it was found that the supermarket had underpaid staff for several years.
Woolworths revealed in October 2019 that it had underpaid approx.
But according to Adero Law, which filed the lawsuit after Woolworths’ admission, the bill was likely to be more than double that amount.
More than $ 370 million in money owed has already been paid back to current and former workers who were underpaid between September 2013 and September 2019.
During the class action, however, Woolworths has no legal obligation to pay back retired workers more than six years ago.
But as the supermarket no longer has records of rosters and timesheets between 2010 and mid-2013, the chain is making from grace, or voluntarily, payments of $ 2,500 to each employee who worked for them.
These payments to the 20,000 employees employed during this period are separate from those made to 5,700 employees who have already been reimbursed.
“In the absence of these records, it is not possible to determine whether there was a pay shortfall across paid team members during this period, or to identify which team members may have been affected,” Woolworths said in a statement to ASX.
“Nevertheless, Woolworths Group remains committed to doing the right thing by its team members, as it is possible that there may have been underpayment in relation to the requirements of the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA) during this period, even with the steps in 2010 . ”
Employees covered by GRIA, who worked for the Company for at least six months between January 1, 2010 and September 1, 2013, are entitled to $ 2,500 payments.
Employees who worked during this time frame for any Woolworths supermarket, Metro, Big W and Dan Murphys and BWS companies then owned by Woolworths are eligible for the payments.
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said he was pleased the class action lawsuit was settled.
“We have worked through hundreds of millions of records as fast as we can to ensure that past and present team members have been paid what they were entitled to, plus interest and early retirement pay,” he said.
“We said at the outset that we would extend our review beyond our legal obligations and look back on 2010.
“With detailed analyzes challenging in previous years, we felt that an equal and widely paid payment to all potentially affected team members was a fair and equitable way to intervene during this period.”
Former Woolworths employees who believe they are eligible for payment can contact the supermarket and register their information here.
The pandemic caused Woolworths’ profits to increase by almost $ 1.14 billion in the second half of 2020.
The supermarket is facing an excellent civil procedure from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), which is seeking reimbursement as well as sanctions.
The class decision will be subject to court approval and the outcome of the FWO case.
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