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Australia’s leading supermarket chain, Woolworths, was recently penalized with a $1.2 million fine for failing to meet the long service leave entitlements of its Victorian employees. The underpayments stemmed from a “human error” that occurred during the updating of the company’s payroll systems back in 2014. Despite this oversight, Woolworths took the initiative to self-report the issue to the Wage Inspectorate Victoria in 2020 after an internal review highlighted the problem.

The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard that over an 18-month period, a total of 1227 charges were made against Woolworths for breaching the Long Service Leave Act. The investigation revealed underpayments to thousands of current and former staff between November 2018 and January 2023, amounting to more than $1 million. However, the court acknowledged Woolworths’ cooperation and proactive steps in addressing the issue, which included apologizing to affected employees, setting up a repayment process with interest, and pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Magistrate Nahrain Warda emphasized the importance of protecting employees’ entitlements, especially considering the power imbalance that exists. While no conviction was recorded in this case, it serves as a reminder for companies like Woolworths to maintain robust systems to ensure compliance with labor laws.


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Article Title: Woolworths Group handed $1.2m fine after ‘widespread’ long service leave error
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