Computer glitch hits Sydney nursing home payroll

25 July 2016 

A computer glitch that miscalculated public holiday pay rates left a Sydney nursing home operator with an unpaid wages bill of almost $11,900.

The error occurred at the employer’s outsourced payroll provider, resulting in 59 casual and part-time employees being underpaid an average of $201 each.

A corrupt computer file caused the underpayment and affected many of the non-nursing staff.

They were paid double time instead of double time-and-a-half on public holidays they worked between July 1, 2015 and May 2 this year.

The underpayment was only discovered during a random check of the employer’s records by the Fair Work Ombudsman as part of its pro-active National Health Care and Social Assistance Campaign, which is focusing on allied health, medical services and residential care businesses.

The nursing home is one of 600 employers Fair Work inspectors are checking across Australia to ensure their businesses are paying the correct minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, allowances and loadings and providing appropriate meal breaks.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says engaging an external payroll provider does not relieve an employer from its obligation to pay the correct award rates.

The highest amount recovered for an individual aged care worker was $562.

“An undetected error, even inadvertent, in a business payroll system can result in a substantial underpayment as evidenced by this employer,” Ms James says.

She says one of the campaign's aims is to ensure employers are aware of their responsibilities and how the Fair Work Ombudsman can assist them to access, understand and apply information to build a culture of compliance.

“Employers should undertake their own checks of Award provisions and periodically self-audit their compliance,” she says.

“Our focus is on educating employers about their obligations and assisting them to put processes in place to ensure that any errors we find don't occur again.”

While it has now ensured it is compliant, the employer has received a formal Letter of Caution from the Fair Work Ombudsman putting it on notice that further contraventions could result in enforcement action.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit at or phone the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50

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