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Woolworths fined $1.2 million for underpaying long service leave

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Woolworths was fined $1.2 million after it unpaid more than 1,200 workers long service leave entitlements over several years.
Woolworths was fined $1.2 million after it underpaid more than 1,200 workers long service leave.

Woolworths has been fined $1.3 million for underpaying some of its Victorian staff between $250 to $12,000 in long service leave.

The supermarket self-reported the underpayments to Victoria’s wages watchdog in 2022.

The magistrate said Woolworths, as one of the largest employers in Australia, should have an “infallible payroll systems in place”.

Long service leave

Long service leave is extended periods of annual leave a worker is entitled to when they’ve worked for the same employer for a significant amount of time.

In Victoria, workers are entitled to long service leave when they’ve worked somewhere continuously for more than seven years.

Woolworths

Woolworths started reviewing its payroll system in 2019. During this review, it found that it had possibly underpaid some staff their long service leave entitlements in Victoria.

Woolworths self-reported the possible underpayments to the state’s wages commissioner in 2022.

Meanwhile, the supermarket said it paid back affected workers what they were owed, including interest and superannuation.

Wages Inspectorate

The Wage Inspectorate Victoria undertook its own investigation and confirmed Woolworths’ had underpaid 1,200 workers their long service leave.

Robert Hortle, Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria, said: “Underpayments were as much as $12,000 which, calculated using the minimum wage, is equivalent to over 500 hours or 67 days leave”.

Judge’s decision

Victorian Judge Nahrain Warda handed down her sentence to Woolworths – deciding to fine the company more than $1.3 million.

Judge Warda blamed the underpayments on “systemic and wide-spread payroll failures by Woolworths”.

She said the fine would have been even higher if Woolworths hadn’t self-reported and already pleaded guilty to underpaying long service leave.

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