The supermarket giant Woolworths is to be investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman in what is believed to be Australia’s biggest wage underpayment case after admitting it owes staff as much as $300m. Woolworths on Wednesday told the stock exchange it had so far identified 5,700 current staff it had underpaid for as much as nine years. But the number of underpaid workers is set to increase as Woolworths sifts through payment records, because the company is yet to determine how many former staff have also been shortchanged. The Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, said she was “shocked” to see Woolworths join a list of large companies guilty of underpayment that already included Wesfarmers, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, Super Retail Group and Michael Hill Jewellers. “The Fair Work Ombudsman will conduct an investigation in relation to Woolworths’ self-disclosure and hold them to account for breaching workplace laws,” she said. Woolworths’ confession also sparked calls from Labor’s employment spokesman, Tony Bourke, for a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry into wage theft. He said Labor would try to set one up when the Senate sits again next month. Giri Sivaraman, a principal employment lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, which has had its own underpayment problems, said… Read full this story
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