Adero Law has filed a class action against retail giant Woolworths regarding underpayments such as unpaid overtime and will ask the court to impose penalties on Woolworths. If you were a salaried employee of Woolworths at any time since 29 November 2013, you may be eligible to join this action.
Additionally, if you worked under the EBA and you were not paid for hours worked – we want to hear from you.
On 29 November 2019, Adero Law filed a class action lawsuit against Woolworths on behalf of Mr Cameron Baker and approximately 7,000 other current or former salaried employees of Woolworths Supermarkets. Adero is instructed that current and former Woolworths employees have suffered underpayments and systemic wage theft during their employment at Woolworths on a far greater scale than the retail giant has disclosed.
Woolworths disclosures to date
On 30 October 2019, Woolworths Group announced an internal review found that by its own estimation approximately 5,700 salaried store members working in its Woolworths Supermarkets and Metro stores have not been paid in accordance with the General Retail Industry Award. Woolworths later confirmed the estimated total cost of ‘remediation’ to be between $200 million and $300 million which is said to cover all underpayments owing to salaried staff within the Woolworths Group since 2015. The quantum of underpayment on a per-worker, per-year basis has been reported by Woolworths as $5,200.
What benefits does the class action afford employees?
Based on 12 months of due diligence investigations, Adero considers that the underpayments disclosed by Woolworths to date substantially understate the wages owed which Adero estimates at $620 million.
This underreporting is likely due to errors in the principles that are applied within the Woolworths self-audit and the fact that Woolworths, in many instances, failed to keep accurate time and attendance records as required by the Fair Work Act 2009 which hinders the identification of overtime hours worked. For this reason, Adero considers the oversight of the Federal Court necessary to accurately settle this matter.
Adero encourages Woolworths to continue their self-audit process and backpay each employee accordingly whilst ensuring each recipient:
- Receives a comprehensive explanation of how their backpay was calculated and what entitlements it includes.
- Is not required to sign any confidentiality or settlement deeds to obtain entitlements already owed to them.
Class action lead claimant
Woolworths is reported to have commenced their internal review in February this year “when a handful of managers questioned why they were paid less than the [less experienced] employees they were managing”. Mr Cameron Baker, a former Replenishment Team Manager at Woolworths Camberwell was one of those handful who spoke up.
Despite receiving a $12,000 increase to his annual salary – Mr Baker did not receive any backpay for his previous five years of employment or an accurate account of underpayments. Mr Baker engaged the services of an industrial agent to perform a wage audit which revealed that Mr Baker is being underpaid at least $20,000 per year given the numerous loadings, penalties and allowances that attach to overtime, and work performed on night-shifts (9pm until 6am), weekends and public holidays.
What are the costs associated with the class action?
Adero proposes to charge professional fees on a no-win, no -fee basis for legal work required to obtain civil penalties for effected employees and the recovery of any underpayments that Woolworths do not voluntarily settle directly with affected persons in the manner described above.
Adero encourages anyone who worked for Woolworths at any of their supermarkets across Australia, in a salaried management or supervisory position, from 29 November 2013 to register for this class action. All registrations are confidential, and any employment documentation provided will be used only for the purpose of reviewing individual underpayments.
Please contact Adero Law via the “Register Interest” button to receive further information about your options and legal rights.