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Woolworths sued by Fair Work for underpaying its salaried managers

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The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking Woolworths to court in relation to the "major underpayments" of its salaried managers.

The supermarket giant previously disclosed, in 2019, that it had underpaid thousands of its employees more than $300 million.

This prompted the FWO to carry out an investigation, by assessing a sample of 70 salaried Woolworths managers for their work between March 2018 and March 2019.

The regulator found that those 70 employees were underpaid a total of $1.17 million during that period – and its Federal Court lawsuit only relates to those employees.

The FWO alleges that the underpayments for those individual managers ranged from $289 to $85,905 during the one-year timeframe.

“We allege that Woolworths failed to ensure that annual salaries were sufficient when compared to the actual hours worked, leaving their salaried managers significantly underpaid," said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

"We also allege that significant underpayments have not been fully back-paid, and we will seek court orders for Woolworths to recalculate and rectify all underpayments for all affected employees.”

In other words, if the FWO wins its test case for the 70 employees, other managers paid in a similar way may also be owed large amounts of backpay.

Fair Work noted that there were about 19,000 salaried managers employed by the two Woolworths companies in question between June 2015 and September 2019, which included full-time and part-time employees from every state and territory.

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