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$315 million: Woolworths staff underpayment worsens

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Shoppers outside a Woolworths grocery store in Brisbane, Tuesday, April 19, 2011.
Woolworths' salary underpayment crisis worsens. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Supermarket giant Woolworths has revised its estimate of how much it short-changed its staff, to $315 million.

The new figure is $15 million more than the upper end of the "$200 to $300 million" range it gave back in October when the underpayments were first revealed.

The company stated in its half-yearly results that the figure is still fluid due to the complex analysis it demands.

"The calculations of the salary shortfall involve a substantial volume of data, high degree of complexity, interpretations, estimations, and are subject to further analysis of prior periods and the Fair Work Ombudsman's ongoing investigation."

Woolworths also estimated a further $80 million of costs would be taken out of the bottom line due to the interest and costs involved in the remediation for the salary shortfall.

A class action filed against the supermarket in December claimed the initial underpayment estimate was inadequate, with the law firm estimating a whopping $620 million.

Woolworths stated on Wednesday morning that it had "more to do to repay team members, finalise salary review and embed improved processes and controls".

"We deeply regret the salaried team member payment shortfalls and want to reassure the team and shareholders that we are addressing them as quickly as possible," said company chairperson Gordon Cairns.

The supermarket presented solid results for the first half of the 2020 fiancial year, with net profit after tax up 15.7 per cent to hit $979 million.

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