Australia markets closed

    +23.40 (+0.32%)

    +0.0081 (+1.21%)
  • ASX 200

    +24.20 (+0.33%)
  • OIL

    +2.04 (+2.64%)
  • GOLD

    +12.70 (+0.72%)

    +290.99 (+1.20%)
  • CMC Crypto 200

    +10.06 (+2.65%)

Wesfarmers underpaid 6,000 staff by $15 million

Left: Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) (Right: Getty)
Left: Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) (Right: Getty)

A Wesfarmers-owned company has admitted to underpaying nearly 6,000 staff by around $15 million over the last decade.

Wesfarmers Industrial & Safety (WIS) is owned by the same company as Coles, Kmart and Bunnings.

According to a statement released today, staff members at industrial supplies company Blackwoods, uniform supplier Workwear Group, gas company Coregas and environmental risk consultant Greencap were not paid correctly by Wesfarmers’ industrial business due to ‘payment errors’.

Nearly 2,000 current staff members and 4,000 Australian staff members have been affected by the underpayments which have been going on since 2010.

Preliminary estimates put the total unpaid sum to $15 million, half of which is unpaid super on loadings and allowances. The official figure could be even higher as WIS continues to validate the data.

“These were inadvertent errors but they are deeply regrettable and we apologise sincerely and unreservedly to our team members who have been affected over a number of years,” said WIS managing director David Baxby.

“Our priority is to back pay all affected team members as quickly as possible, including interest, to ensure affected team members are fully compensated.”

The underpayments were discovered when testing of a new payroll system uncovered “anomalies”.

WIS called on PwC to review the extent of the underpayments.

Baxby said: “We are also investing heavily in our payroll system, processes and capabilities to fix this issue and ensure it cannot happen again.”

The industrials business stated they are continuing to work with PwC to identify and contact affected staff as quickly as possible.

WIS stated they self-reported the underpayments to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

‘We will consider the full range of enforcement options’: FWO

In a statement, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said it was ‘simply not good enough’ that large companies were failing to adequately pay staff.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman will be holding Wesfarmers to account after self-disclosing significant underpayments of its workers,” Parker said.

“Each week, another large company is publicly admitting that they failed to ensure staff are receiving their lawful entitlements.

“This simply is not good enough. Companies will be held accountable for breaching workplace laws.

“Companies and their boards are on notice that we will consider the full range of enforcement options available under the Fair Work Act, including litigation where appropriate,” she said.

Current and past WIS staff who suspect they may have been underpaid can get in touch with WIS’ support centre at 1800 314 579 or

Make your money work with Yahoo Finance’s daily newsletter. Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, news and tech news.