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Department of Finance underpaid staff

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18:  Senator Simon Birmingham during debate to Fair Work Amendment Bill 2021 in the Senate at Parliament House on March 18, 2021 in Canberra, Australia. Senator Griff has issued a statement confirming that Centre Alliance only supports changes to casuals provisions and wage theft and will not support the rest of the Industrial Relations omnibus bill. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
(Photo: Sam Mooy/Getty) (Sam Mooy via Getty Images)

The Department of Finance has admitted to underpaying 60 staff over the course of four years, and has reported itself to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The department emailed staff to make them aware of the issue and informed them that it will contact all affected staff directly.

Around 60 junior staffers for federal MP’s were underpaid over the course of four years - the affected employees were paid between $51,000 and $68,000 per year.

The scale of the underpayments is yet to be released.

The department said it discovered certain instances since 2018 where the rate paid to electoral officials was at a lower reward rate.

“We are auditing the pay of all EOA-01 and EOA-02 staff employed during the relevant periods over the past four years, including former employees,” the department said.

In a statement to Yahoo Finance a spokesperson for the department said the issue arose due to the interaction between two separate government protocols - the Australian Government Industry Award 2016 and the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2016-2019.

“Finance identified the issue and has self-reported this issue to the Fair Work Ombudsman. There are approximately 60 current employees affected and their salaries have been adjusted from this pay cycle (15 April 2021),” the department said.

The department said it has commenced the audit, which will examine payroll records to verify the number of former employees and determine what money they are owed.

“Finance has also engaged an independent auditor to help ensure staff receive back pay as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.

Accounting firm KPMG has been brought on to audit all staff payments from the last four years.

The issue was self-reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Department has also notified the Community and Public Sector Union and Australian Services Union.

A spokesperson from the Fair Work Ombudsman told Yahoo Finance it will conduct its own investigation into the issue.

“We expect any employers that identify non-compliance to report to the FWO and fully cooperate with our investigation to ensure that employees are quickly repaid any outstanding entitlements,” the spokesperson said.

“Any workers with concerns about their pay should contact us for assistance.”

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