Class Action Coverage
You may be a class member in the Woolworths class action if you worked:
- in a salaried position
- at a Woolworths, Metro, or BIG W supermarket
- between November 2013 and the date when the class action was filed
Most class members would have received a notice from the court by letter or email in March and November 2021. If you did not receive a notice from the court but believe you are a class member, please feel free to contact us.
About the Class Action
The class action was filed in November 2019 by Adero Law on behalf of Mr Baker, a night Replenishment Team Manager at Woolworths Camberwell in Victoria.
Mr Baker alleges that the salary Woolworths paid to him was insufficient to satisfy his legal entitlements. Mr Baker claims he was working well beyond his rostered hours to keep his department running to the standard expected by Woolworths, and he wasn’t always able to record his hours of work accurately in Kronos. Mr Baker knew that he was not the only salaried Woolworths employee who felt this way, which is why he started the class action.
Class Action Status
The initial trial for the Woolworths Class Action was conducted between 5 June 2023 and 21 July 2023. The court will determine the legal issues in a written judgment and the factual issues later. The court has split the trial into legal and factual issues because most legal issues will apply equally to every group member while some facts will be unique to each group member. This is not uncommon in class action proceedings.
Adero Law remains committed to obtaining fair compensation for all group members for all hours worked across the 6-year claim period.
When the parties in a class action reach a settlement agreement, the applicant(s) must apply to the Court to have the settlement approved by the Court.
The Applicants in the Woolworths Class Action did this on 15 November 2021. Class members will now be given the option to opt out of the class action, object to the settlement, or do nothing to accept the benefit of the settlement.
If the settlement is approved, Woolworths and class members who objected to the settlement or did nothing will be bound by the settlement.
The hearing for the settlement and discontinuance application is at 10:15am on 15 December 2021 before Justice Murphy in the Federal Court of Australia.
The amount of compensation you may receive would depend on the outcome of the proceedings commenced by the Fair Work Ombudsman against Woolworths, being NSD 581 of 2021 (the FWO Proceeding).
This is because the FWO Proceeding would decide how the General Retail Industry Award is to be interpreted and applied to the claims made in the class action. Once that is determined, Woolworths would calculate your loss (underpayment) and make any payments owing to you between 29 November 2013 and 7 October 2021 (the Relevant Period).
Provided you were underpaid during the Relevant Period, you would receive compensation from Woolworths shortly after the FWO Proceeding concludes. While we cannot be certain, we anticipate the FWO Proceeding will conclude in 2022, although appeals may extend the proceeding into 2023.
The $25,000 payment would be divided between the First and Second Applicants, being Mr Baker and Mr Piro, to compensate them for their time and expenses in leading the class action. Class members are not applicants.
The agreed legal costs for the class action would be paid by Woolworths. As the Fair Work Ombudsman is free, no legal costs would be deducted from any money you may receive from Woolworths in compensation for any underpayment during the Relevant Period.
Note: There was an error in the Notice that implied the Fair Work Ombudsman was not free. This is not the case. The Fair Work Ombudsman does not require any contributions from class members for legal costs. A corrected notice has been issued to all class members.
Yes, Big W class members are included in the settlement. If you are a class member who was employed to work in a Big W, you would be treated the same as a class member who was employed to work in a Woolworths or Metro supermarket.
This is because the General Retail Industry Award applies to Big W in the same way that it applies to Woolworths and Metro supermarkets, so the interpretation principles determined in the FWO Proceeding would apply to all class members.
You will not be bound by the settlement. This means you could bring a class action against Woolworths, but Woolworths would not calculate your loss for the entire Relevant Period at the conclusion of the FWO Proceeding.
Your objection will be considered by the parties and the Court. If the Court approves the settlement, you will be bound by the settlement.
The Applicants, on advice from Adero Law, agreed to the settlement because we believe it will get more money into the hands of class members more quickly.
Because the FWO Proceeding is free, handled by a government regulator, and makes substantially similar claims to the claims made in the class action, the Court may have stayed (postponed) the class action until the FWO Proceeding resolves. This is because the Court may decide it is an inefficient use of it’s resources to have the same questions of law being litigated in the same Court at the same time in two different proceedings.
Rather than face the uncertainty and additional legal costs this delay would cause, the Applicants accepted a settlement offer that we believe will streamline the FWO Proceeding and result in payments being made to class members more quickly and without any deductions for legal costs.
Information about the settlement, including how to opt out of the class action or object to the settlement, is available in the Notice that was sent to all class members and on our website: https://www.aderolaw.com.au/class-actions/woolworths/