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Coles ‘underpaid workers by $115 million’


Supermarket giant Coles is being hauled to court accused of shortchanging more than 7500 workers by $115 million.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Coles underpaid 7812 employees between January 2017 and March 2020, some of them by up to $471,647.

Most of the underpayments, totalling $115.2 million, relate to overtime entitlements for salaried managers at supermarkets and liquor stores in each state and territory. 

Forty-five managers were allegedly short-changed by more than $100,000 each. 

Coles will face the Federal Court accused of unlawfully failing to keep proper records including related to employees’ overtime hours.

“Businesses paying annual salaries cannot take a ‘set-and-forget’ approach to paying their workers,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said on Thursday.

“Employers must ensure wages being paid are sufficient to cover all minimum lawful entitlements for the hours their employees are actually working and the work they are actually doing.”

The legal action stems from Coles’ disclosure last year to the Australian Securities Exchange it was reviewing the pay of award-covered and salaried employees.

It is accused of significantly underestimating how much money employees were owed. Fair Work said more than $108 million remained outstanding.

Coles faces penalties of up to $63,000 per breach proven.

By Georgie Moore in Canberra

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