It is not just SMEs that are caught out by wage underpayment — the ABC has revealed that it, too, had inadvertently been shortchanging some of its employees for years.
In a statement dated 10 January 2019, the ABC said it had identified that some of its casual workers had been underpaid over a six-year period.
It said that a review has been launched to determine “how penalties, allowances and loadings should have been calculated and applied over the past six years to about 2,500 ‘flat-rate’ casual staff”.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman has been notified and the ABC is liaising with them in relation to this situation,” the broadcaster said.
“The Corporation is having discussions with the CPSU, which brought the matter to the attention of management, and intends to work with affected staff, the CPSU and the MEAA to address their concerns.
“This error should not have occurred, and the ABC apologises to any casual employee who has been underpaid. The ABC is actively working to remedy this for affected employees as soon as possible.”
In a separate statement relating to internal employment matters, the ABC noted that its former managing director has followed through with plans to launch legal action for wrongful dismissal, but defended its actions as being within the law and with just cause.
“The former ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has brought proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia alleging she was subject to adverse action because, amongst other things, she had made complaints,” it said.
“This is not correct. Ms Guthrie was dismissed because the Board had lost confidence in her. She was not dismissed because of any complaints she’d made.
“Ms Guthrie also alleges she could not be dismissed during her term. The Corporation disputes this is the case. Ms Guthrie’s termination was lawful.”
It concluded by stating that “the ABC Board stands by its decision to terminate Ms Guthrie’s appointment and the Corporation will defend the claims”.
At the time of Ms Guthrie’s sacking in September last year, which then resulted in the chairman also standing down, the Governance Institute said that the situation highlighted the delicate but critical balance that businesses need to strike between the board and senior management, and the responsibilities that lie with each of them.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.