The charitable organisation run by St John Ambulance Western Australia underpaid 446 current and former employees between 2013 to 2021.
Healthcare provider underpaid staff $4.86 million
Healthcare provider Apollo Health Limited has back paid staff over $4.86 million, including interest and superannuation, signing an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).
The not-for-profit charitable organisation, which has been owned by St John Ambulance Western Australia Limited since 2016, self-reported to the FWO in November 2021 after uncovering underpayments during a self-initiated review.
The FWO said the underpayments were predominantly due to payroll issues that were not discovered by St John Ambulance when it acquired Apollo Health in 2016.
The regulator said there were also failures in correctly applying some provisions of the relevant awards with time recording found to be inadequate or incomplete.
Consequently, 446 current and former employees were underpaid approximately $3.8 million, excluding superannuation and interest, between July 2013 and July 2021.
The FWO said Apollo Health had back-paid all underpayments to 438 current and former workers, with more than $4.86 million, including superannuation and interest, provided to the impacted employees.
The regulator said the back payments for the remaining eight former employees, which the firm could not locate, had been paid to the FWO.
The regulator found employees were underpaid their minimum rates, overtime, penalty rates, allowances and annual leave under the Fair Work Act 2009, with most back payments ranging from $15 to 12,000 with $139,446 being the highest.
Along with back paying the impacted staff, the enforceable undertaking also required Apollo Health to write to all underpaid employees to notify them of its commencement, publish a notice in a newspaper regarding its contraventions and establish a telephone hotline and dedicated email for all employees who worked during the period to make inquiries.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said the enforceable undertaking was the appropriate measure due to the firm’s cooperation with the regulator’s investigation and its commitment to rectifying underpayments.
“Under the enforceable undertaking, Apollo Health has committed to implementing stringent measures to ensure all of its workers are paid correctly. These measures include commissioning, at its own cost, an independent audit to check its compliance with workplace laws next year,” said Ms Hannah.
“This matter demonstrates how important it is for employers to place a high priority on their workplace obligations, to ensure that their systems provide for full compliance with all entitlements.”
“Shortcomings in Apollo Health’s payroll system and broader compliance were left unchecked, which led to hard-working employees missing out on their money.”