OTR to reimburse $2.3 million in entitlements to staff

OTR has agreed to back-pay or credit about $2.3 million in annual leave entitlements to roughly 1,500 current and former employees.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) inspected 15 OTR sites and revealed OTR’s failure to accurately identify employees as shift workers, resulting in annual leave accrual entitlements not being met. The annual leave entitlement of shift workers is five weeks per year, rather than the four weeks of non-shift workers.

OTR responded with a full review, which found that 1,524 employees had not received their full annual leave entitlements between July 2018 and February 2023.

Employees affected by the breaches were full-time or part-time workers, mainly console operators or roadhouse attendants, with the majority working in metropolitan and regional South Australia.

Individual back-payments to former employees range from about $12 to $6,189, and the average back-payment is about $1,050, including leave loading and interest.

OTR has signed an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with the FWO, which requires remaining back payments to be made by July 2024. It will also make a $150,000 contrition payment to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue fund.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said an EU was appropriate as the company had cooperated with the FWO’s investigation and demonstrated a strong commitment to both rectifying underpayments and making changes to ensure they were not repeated.

“Under the EU, OTR has committed to implementing stringent measures to ensure all its workers are paid correctly. These measures include commissioning, at their own cost, an independent auditor to check it is appropriately meeting annual leave entitlements.”

Booth said the matter serves as a warning to all employees about what is at stake if they fail to correctly categorise their employees.

“In this matter, a failure to correctly identify employees as shift workers led to long-term breaches, and significant staff underpayments and rectification costs.

“Large employers need to place a much higher priority on having systems and processes in place that ensure employees’ full lawful entitlements are met, year-in, year-out.”

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