World Vision Australia (WVA) has conceded underpaying 200 casual and 45 permanent employees by as much as $8.9 million, blaming a payroll error.
The Australian arm of the global charity has “apologised unreservedly” for the error – saying it was unfortunate but not deliberate – and that it had self-reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) in December.
WVA Acting Chief Executive Officer Graham Strong says the organisation is now working with the FWO to determine how much back-pay is owed to staff.
A total of $8.9 million has been set aside as an estimate to cover the remuneration, Strong said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“Given how conservative we have been in this exercise, I’d be very surprised if the final amount comes to more than that provision,” Strong said.
“We cannot yet confirm the total figure of underpayment until the process with the FWO has been completed.”
Strong said the error was not deliberate, but unfortunate.
“We apologise unreservedly for the error and have moved swiftly and decisively to rectify it,” he said.
“I care deeply that this has happened because I know how deeply our employees care about what they do.
“This is particularly devastating because I know our employees joined World Vision to make a difference in the world, and they don’t see their work here solely as a job, but as a calling.”
‘I care deeply that this has happened because I know how deeply our employees care about what they do.’
The error stems from a misdetermination of the award employees should have been paid under.
According to the statement, staff should have been paid under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award, but weren’t.
About 400 staff were also paid above award rates.