04/09/2020 - 15:20

$8m back payments to Western Power workers

04/09/2020 - 15:20

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Back payments of about $8 million to Western Power workers are nearly complete after the government-owned enterprise identified underpayments from as early as 2010.

$8m back payments to Western Power workers
Western Power owns the electricity network in Perth and surrounds. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Back payments of about $8 million to Western Power workers are nearly complete after the government-owned enterprise identified underpayments from as early as 2010.

Western Power, which operates the electricity grid in Perth and surrounds, identified errors which it said impacted 1,200 current and 1,000 former employees.

The problem was first revealed by Western Power last year, but Business News understands the exact scale of underpayment has only recently been ascertained.

The employees had been covered under Individual and Flexibility Agreements, but Western Power said it had misapplied a better off overall test against a comparable enterprise agreement.

Those issues included paying superannuation contributions above the statutory guarantee directly rather than into super accounts, and capping redundancy payments.

Another issue was about application of the better off overall test to pay point progression.

Western Power said while the Fair Work Act limited back payments to six years, it would pay back workers as early as 2010 as a gesture of good faith.

Western Power is currently finalising back payments to current and former employees who were unintentionally underpaid during their employment with us,” a spokesperson told Business News.

“To date, we’ve paid approximately $8 million to current employees impacted by the unintentional underpayment.

“We expect all payments to be completed by 1 October 2020.”

The problems had been identified by the Australian Services Union, which said last year it was disappointed with the errors but credited Western Power with its work to rectify the issue.

No further comment was available today.

Woolworths, the Commonwealth Bank and Wesfarmers were among those that announced underpayments last year, but public entities were not exempt from mistakes.

Victorian government departments and the ABC were reportedly accused by unions of making payment errors.

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