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Major retailer back-pays 3,000 staff $4.4 million

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
A man counting Australian dollar bills. A picture that describes buying, paying, handing out money, or showing money.
Thousands of workers were underpaid. Image: Getty

More than 3,000 current and former Lush employees have been back-paid an average $1,333 each after the cosmetics retailer discovered systemic underpayments.

Between 2010 and 2018, workers were underpaid in Lush Australasia’s Sydney factory and across stores in all states but the Northern Territory.

Sales assistants, retail supervisors, managers, production assistants and compounders were all affected by the failures.

The Fair Work Ombudsman said the contraventions were due to the cosmetics retailer’s poor workplace relations systems, a lack of training, a manual payroll system and the absence of an HR department, even as Lush’s popularity exploded.

Lush self-reported the underpayments, with workers missing out on minimum wage rates, weekend and shift work rates, overtime rates and allowances. The Fair Work Ombudsman said Lush also failed to keep adequate records.

A logo of Lush cosmetics store
(Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images)

The retailer has back-paid the 3,130 workers a total of $4.4 million including interest and superannuation and entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Under the agreement, Lush will pay for an external auditing firm to audit its compliance over the next three years and will make a $60,000 contrition payment,

“This matter serves as a warning to all employers that if you don’t prioritise workplace compliance, you will not only have to deal with the cost of paying back significant amounts to employees, but you face reputational damage and ongoing formal scrutiny by the FWO,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.

“Any employers who need help meeting their lawful workplace obligations should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice.”

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