National Library’s $250,000 underpayment of staff is a warning to all public employers, Fair Work Ombudsman says

By Shannon Jenkins

November 2, 2020

The National Library (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The National Library of Australia underpaid employees almost $250,000 in wages and superannuation over two decades, the Fair Work Ombudsman has revealed.

The FWO on Monday said the National Library went to the federal workplace watchdog earlier this year after it found it had not paid casual library assistants the correct weekend and public holiday penalty rates.

The commonwealth entity underpaid 106 current and former employees a total of $245,359 in wages and superannuation between 2000 and April 2020, with individual underpayments ranging from $12 to $19,997, the FWO said.

Eleven employees were underpaid at least $5000.

Fair work ombud Sandra Parker urged organisations to take note.

“This matter serves as a warning to all public and private sector employers that if you don’t prioritise workplace compliance, you risk underpaying staff on a large scale,” she said.

“Any employers who need help meeting their lawful workplace obligations should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice.”

The National Library has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with the FWO, requiring it to pay every affected employee within the next three months, with additional interest on all back-payments. More than half of the underpayments have been rectified so far.

The FWO said the National Library wouldn’t be required to make a contrition payment as it had cooperated with the investigation, had addressed its non-compliance issues, and implemented measures to ensure future compliance.

“Under the Enforceable Undertaking, this entity has committed to stringent measures to comply with the law and protect its workforce. This includes engaging, at its own cost, an expert auditing firm to audit its compliance with workplace laws,” Parker said.

Under the EU, the National Library must also display an online notice detailing its workplace law breaches, apologise to workers, commission workplace relations changes for managerial staff and provide evidence to the FWO that it has developed systems and processes for ensuring compliance in future.

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