Super Retail allegedly underpaid workers

The owners of Supercheap Auto and Rebel Sport allegedly underpaid workers by more than $1 million.

The owners of Supercheap Auto and Rebel Sport allegedly underpaid workers by more than $1 million. Photo: AAP

The workplace regulator is taking legal action against the owner of Supercheap Auto, Rebel Sport, Macpac and BCF  for allegedly underpaying workers by more than $1 million.

The Fair Work Ombudsman announced the Federal Court action against Super Retail Group and its subsidiaries on Friday following some “serious” contraventions of the Fair Work Act.

It’s alleging the stock exchange-listed company did not pay salaried employees their minimum lawful entitlements, given that they generally performed significant overtime.

Fair Work examined a sample of 146 workers and found they were underpaid by $1.14 million between January 2017 and March 2019.

The amounts ranged from small to about $34,500 per employee, including store managers, retail workers and administrators.

Fair Work began investigating after Super Retail Group self-reported the underpayment of thousands of employees in 2018.

It apologised and paid back more than $52.7 million in entitlements and interest to current and former workers.

“We note the allegations in the proceedings and reiterate our view that this matter represents a regrettable chapter in our company’s history,” Super Retail Group CEO Anthony Heraghty said on Friday.

“It is unacceptable and contrary to the company’s values for any team member not to be paid correctly.”

Super Retail Group claimed the employees were “Set Up” team members involved in setting up new stores and refurbishing existing ones.

The regulator is also alleging that the methodology used by Super Retail Group to remedy the earlier situation resulted in only partial back-payment of wages under its remediation program.

“The breaches alleged in this case – inadequate annual salaries for employees stretching across multiple years – have become a persistent issue for businesses across many industries,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.

“Every employer should be clear that if annual salaries do not cover all minimum lawful entitlements for all hours actually worked, the results can be substantial back-payment bills, plus the risk of significant court-ordered penalties.”

It’s the first time the Ombudsman has attempted to hold a holding company responsible for alleged breaches by its subsidiaries.

The maximum penalties for the alleged serious contraventions are $630,000 per breach – 10 times the penalties that would ordinarily apply.


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