Beaurepaires identifies nine years of payment mistakes

Beaurepaires Australia revealed this week that around 3700 current and former employees were underpaid or overpaid due to a payroll error stretching back to 2010.

Back payments to the affected staff are expected to cost the business approximately $1.8 million.

Beaurepaires identified the payroll error during a review of its system conducted with the assistance of independent experts to ensure it was consistent with the Vehicle, Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010.

The error specifically relates to overtime and annual loading for shift workers, and was caused by a failure to update the payment system following changes to the award.

“Paying our associates accurately is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of our business,” Scott Bennett, Beaurepaires director of retail operations, said.

“We know it is of critical importance to our people, and also to the integrity and trust that Beaurepaires stands for. We want to be very clear in stating that this failure is completely unacceptable, [and] we take full responsibility for addressing the issue as quickly and transparently as possible.”

Bennett added that as soon as the team realised what had happened, its priority became understanding how the mistake occurred and what was owed, and ensuring that affected associates are correctly compensated.

The service network is working with external experts so that staff can have confidence in the outcome, and to ensure the analysis is completed as quickly and accurately as possible.

Beaurepaires is the latest in a string of retailers to identify payment issues in the last year, with Lush and Super Retail Group having set aside $2 million and $7.9 million respectively to repay employees.

The onus of these issues has largely been put on the complicated nature of the Modern Awards.

“The industrial relations system in Australia is incredibly complicated, and small-medium size and large size businesses actively deal with it every day,” Dominique Lamb, CEO of the National Retail Association, said.

“It’s absolutely likely if a business has grown quite rapidly over a period of time and has not maintained and continued to review those systems and look at how they’re paying and how they’re processing pay, this could absolutely happen to them.

“If you aren’t checking your payroll systems, this is definitely the time to make sure you’re definitely getting it right.”

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