Supermarket giant Coles is getting slapped with a bit of legal action after allegedly underpaying its workers a heaping $115 million.
On Thursday morning, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) accused the Woolies rival in the Federal Court of grossly underpaying staff across every state and territory in Australia.
According to the FWO, Coles allegedly underpaid 7,812 employees a grand total of $115.2 million from January 2017 to March 2020. Per the Australian Financial Review (AFR), a single Coles employee is allegedly owed $471,647 from three years of work, with 45 others being owed over $100,000.
You’re probably wondering how Coles could possibly, allegedly, owe this much money, but according to the FWO, this massive sum of dollarydoos has built up over time due to public holiday and weekend rates being underpaid, as well as overtime hours that managers worked.
“This court action against Coles should serve as a warning to all employers that they can face serious consequences if they do not prioritise workplace law compliance,” Sandra Parker from the FWO told the AFR.
“Businesses paying annual salaries cannot take a set-and-forget approach to paying their workers.
“Employers must ensure wages being paid are sufficient to cover all minimum lawful entitlements for the hours their employees are actually working and the work they are actually doing.”
In 2019, Woolworths admitted to underpaying workers almost $300 million for similar reasons currently being alleged against Coles. They found that around 5,700 workers were owed money from underpaid shifts, a majority of whom were store managers who put in extra hours.
In early 2020, Coles also admitted to underpaying workers, but claimed that they only owed $20 million to approximately 600 staff members from a six-year period.
FWO claims that this number is much higher, which explains the move towards legal action.
They also allege that according to their findings, only $7.2 million has been paid back to workers who were owed money from their underpaid shifts, with a further $108 million still owed.
So yeah, there’s definitely a possibility that if you’ve worked at Coles in the alleged time period, you may be owed some dollarydoos if what the FWO claim is true.
We’ll just have to wait and see how the legal action plays out.