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Free app shows if you’re being underpaid

Pictured, Coles and Woolworths logos, young woman on phone. Images: Getty
Coles and Woolworths have been at the centre of underpayment scandals. Images: Getty

Payslips can be confusing. Combing through your net pay, superannuation, tax, your tax in the year to date and award rate to see whether you’ve been underpaid can be stressful.

And underpayment is rife in Australia: the Fair Work Ombudsman believes around 18,000 Australians were underpaid in the 2018-19 financial year alone, with $40 million ripped from their pockets.

But new Australian app, Outflank, claims to make it a bit easier.

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The Outflank pay-tracker allows Australian workers to track their worked hours and determine the expected pay.

“This ensures that no underpayments occur (accidentally or deliberately),” Outflank explains.

The free app offers a budgeting tool so workers can predict their pay and an “easy-to-read” virtual payslip that can then be compared to workers’ actual payslips. That’s designed to improve payslip reading skills.

It can even be used to retrospectively identify and recover unpaid wages from previous work experience.

The app incorporates pay rates, penalty rates, break and overtime pay and allowances and deductions across each award rate in every state and territory.

Australia’s underpayment climate

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Celebrity chef George Calombaris arrives to Downing Centre Local Court on September 8, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. The celebrity chef was charged with assault following an altercation at the A-League grand final in May.  (Photo by Daniel Munoz/WireImage)
Celebrity chef George Calombaris. Image: Getty

The app comes amid dozens of underpayment scandals, with Woolworths recently admitting to underpaying staff an incredible $315 million, while Coles also underpaid staff $20 million.

Between the two companies, around 6,800 staff were shortchanged.

“This is an epidemic – not only hurting hard working Australians but the reputation of the companies themselves,” the Shop, Distribution and Allied Employees’ Association national secretary Gerard Dwyer said in February.

“It need never have happened. Australia did not have a systemic wage theft problem when unions had the right to spot check company payrolls. Successive coalition governments stripped unions of those rights and now we have an epidemic, getting worse by the day.”

Celebrity chef George Calombaris was also at the centre of an underpayment storm, after his MADE Establishment was found to have underpaid 515 employees a whopping $7.83 million.

He has since lost a lucrative endorsement deal with Western Australia Tourism, exited Masterchef, sold two homes and seen MADE Establishment enter voluntary administration in his 30 weeks from hell.

Calombaris said his early payroll systems lacked the sophistication required to navigate Australian award rates.

“The thing about 13 years ago, you're a young chef, 26 years of age, you want to open your first restaurant, you get together with three other partners at that point, and you open the first one, then the second one opens, the third one, the creativity is flying, the ideas are flying, the dreaming is there," he said.

“But the sophistication in the back end wasn't there."

Rebel Sport, Supercheap Auto and BCF have also underpaid staff a massive $61.2 million collectively, while Sydney hospitality giant Merivale has been hit with a $129 million class action for allegedly underpaying around 8,200 workers.

“The claim is indicative of an industry-wide problem,” said Canberra-based law firm Adero Lawyers principal Rory Markham.

“Employers have built empires and expanded their property portfolios on the back of employees being paid below-award wages.”

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