CouriersPlease “deeply regrets” effectively underpaying employees $382,065 over an eight year period by failing to provide staff with paid meal breaks.
Last year a query from an employee prompted the national parcels carrier to undertake an internal audit which revealed 245 current and former freight-handling and depot staff had missed out on a 20-minute paid meal break.
The shift workers were entitled to the paid break under the Road Transport and Distribution Industry Award 2010.
The workplace breaches began with the installation of an electronic payroll system in 2010.
A statement from the franchisor said “As soon as CP became aware of the oversight, we voluntarily alerted the Fair Work Ombudsman. We have identified and apologise to all affected past and present employees. To date, we have back-paid more than 90 per cent of affected employees, and are in the final stages of our correspondence with, and back-payments to, former employees.”
CouriersPlease has now repaid more than $360,000.
The franchisors points out it is now working with the Fair Work Ombudsman “to ensure we have taken all the necessary actions to rectify the underpayment and ensure such an oversight does not occur in the future”.
“This includes Fair Work-approved training to all CP employees responsible for management, recruitment, payroll and human resources; annual Fair Work-approved audits of our compliance with all Commonwealth workplace laws and instruments; and regular reporting to Fair Work with regards to our payment obligations to depot and freight employees.”
As a result of the significant breach of workplace laws but in recognition of a willingness to back pay workers, CouriersPlease has entered into a Court-Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
In addition to the compliance measures and back-paying workers in full, the company will make a gesture of contrition through a $50,000 payment to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“CP prides itself on being a positive and rewarding workplace that complies with all of its obligations,” the statement concludes. “This was an unintentional oversight which we deeply regret.”