Company agrees to more training after short-changing employees more than $2 million

by L&D07 Jun 2016
A mining services company has agreed to commission workplace relations training for all managerial staff with human resource and payroll responsibilities, after it was found to have short-changed 205 employees over four years.

Moreover, the Victorian-based company has also appointed a manager of human resources, safety and training to ensure they are paying employees correctly.

Deepcore Australia Pty Ltd underpaid their workers by $2.09 million at mines in regional Victoria and Queensland between 2010 and 2014. The company will repay more than $2 million to the workers who were short-changed over the four years.

The company blamed the underpayments on their failure to properly understand the arrangements for transitioning to modern Awards, erroneous legal and accounting advice and difficulties that arose with its expanding workforce.

The Fair Work Ombudsman began investigating after receiving requests for assistance from Deepcore employees in August, 2015.

The underpaid workers include current and former employees, who performed drilling duties and maintenance-related trades.

This involved four employees underpaid more than $50,000, 33 workers underpaid more than $20,000 and 99 underpaid more than $5000.

Deepcore has agreed to back-pay the workers as part of an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) it has entered into with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The back-payment bill is one of the largest ever enforced by the Fair Work Ombudsman, and is a consequence of Deepcore's failure to pay minimum entitlements.

Aside from commissioning workplace relations training, as part of the terms of the EU Deepcore has also agreed to:
  • Donate $15,000 to the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre in regional Victoria;
  • Engage an independent specialist to audit its compliance with wages and work-related entitlements and record-keeping and pay-slip obligations;
  • Set up a dedicated email address for employees with inquiries about underpayments;
  • Apologise to all underpaid employees;
  • Display a workplace notice and a media notice in Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper detailing the contraventions, the terms of the EU and apologising for its actions;
  • Register with the Fair Work Ombudsman's My Account portal;
  • Upgrade systems and processes to ensure future compliance with workplace laws
The company has already reimbursed more than $1 million to current employees and will re-pay former workers by March, 2017.

Deepcore will also pay workers 1.5% interest on all reimbursements.
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