Geelong-based retail giant Cotton On has back-paid 3289 of its employees more than $278,000 after it was discovered the company had failed to pay staff for attending training out of working hours.
The back-pay – an average of $84.56 per employee – follows an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman, which found that Cotton On contravened workplace laws when it failed to pay staff attending training sessions and staff meetings between February and December 2008.
Cotton On voluntarily repaid all money owing last year and has entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman, promising that it will ensure future compliance with the Fair Work Act.
As part of the enforceable undertaking – a measure being used by the Fair Work Ombudsman as an alternative to litigation – Cotton On must post an apology to staff at all its stores, on its website and on the company’s Facebook wall; ensure its human resources managers undertake workplace relations compliance training within three months; provide a written report to the Fair Work Ombudsman each year for the next three years to illustrate that staff are being paid correctly and identifying any proactive compliance measures.
Fair Work Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell says enforceable undertakings are a mechanism by which the agency can still achieve strong outcomes against wrong-doers without costly civil penalty proceedings.