ABC to review potential underpayment of 1950 staff

The ABC is conducting a review into whether approximately 1,950 of its staff were incorrectly paid, with the review coming just 6 months after the broadcaster paid out almost $12 million to underpaid casual workers.

During a period stretching back as far as July of 2014, some staff who received a ‘buyout’ may have been paid a higher flat rate rather than the correct penalty rates and entitlements, while other staffers working under the ABC’s Band One classification may also have been underpaid.

The comprehensive review will take into account both current and former ABC employees, with the ABC revealing it is being conducted in cooperation with PriceWaterhouseCoopers due to its “complexity”.

The ABC is committed to ensuring all employees are paid accurately and has undertaken a comprehensive review of both current and former employees and relevant ABC Enterprise Agreements,” said the public broadcaster in a statement.

We estimate this will account for roughly 1,950 current or former employees and will take several months to complete. The ABC takes this matter very seriously and will continue to consult with relevant employees and their representatives.  

The ABC has informed the Fair Work Ombudsman of the review and will continue to liaise with them over the course of the investigation.

ABC section secretary, community and public sector union, Sinddy Ealy, told Mumbrella the CPSU “…welcomes news that the ABC is doing this review to ensure it is paying its staff correctly.

“CPSU members worked tirelessly to expose the ABC’s underpayment of its casual employees in 2018, and this latest pay review is the direct result of that work,” she said.

“The fact that there are now legally enforceable undertakings in place to ensure the ABC improves its employment practices including how it pays its employees, is a great outcome for all workers and the organisation.”

Mumbrella has also reached out to the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) for comment.

In June of 2020, the ABC back paid over $12 million to more than 1,800 former and current casual staff following an investigation by the Ombudsman, after it discovered employees had not received the correct entitlements under its enterprise agreement.

In total, 1,907 ABC employees were underpaid $12.01 million between October 2012 and February 2019. By the end of May, ABC had repaid $11.98 million of those payments.

In September, the ABC’s workforce voted to enforce their enterprise agreement and insist on a 2% pay rise the government had asked them to defer for six months.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and the Australian Public Service Commissioner (APSC) Peter Woolcott asked the ABC to consider deferring the pay rise, despite it being signed off on by the Fair Work Commission.

In that same month, the MEAA confirmed to Mumbrella it had lodged a notice of dispute to the Commission over concerns the public broadcaster underpaid staff owed redundancy entitlements.


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