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Can you afford to back-pay millions of dollars to underpaid staff?


paperwork on a desk with text and logo for the Fair Work Ombudsman and title Enforceable Undertakings. WorkPlacePLUS branding.

New SCHADS Pay Guides – Out Now
New pay rates for the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry (SCHADS) Award for the 2023/2024 financial year have been released by the Fair Work Commission.
To receive your new 2023 pay guide, please contact us >

It is important to keep track of your employer obligations and ensure that you are paying your staff their correct entitlements.

For example, when changes are made to Modern Awards, it's important to ensure that you update your payroll systems and mitigate the risk of a breach under the Award.


Employers also need to be aware that when wages are increased, allowances need to be increased accordingly. Failing to pay the correct allowances will effectively result in the unlawful underpaying of staff.


Get help interpreting and applying the SCHADS Award... >

An Enforceable Undertaking is a written agreement between the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and an employer who hasn’t complied with their legal responsibilities under Australian Employment Regulations. Enforceable Undertakings are used by the FWO instead of taking the employer to court over non-compliance, such as not paying employees in accordance with their Enterprise Agreement. The employer needs to agree to back-pay employees for wages not paid and be audited for future compliance.


Recent examples in the healthcare, social services and not-for-profit sectors:


▶︎ June 2023 - Home care and disability services provider Community Health, Emergency Care and Support (CHECS) Pty Ltd in South-East Queensland faces a penalty of up to $33,300. Learn more >


▶︎ December 2022 - Australian Unity Limited back-paid staff in Victoria and NSW more than $6.8 million and entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO. Learn more >


▶︎ September 2022 - Disability services provider Community Living & Respite Services Inc (CLRS) back-paid staff more than $3 million and entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO. Learn more >

▶︎ July 2022 - National community health and aged services organisation Silver Chain Group Limited back-paid staff in Western Australia more than $17 million and entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO. Learn more >


▶︎ December 2021 - The Paraplegic & Quadriplegic Association of NSW (ParaQuad) back-paid staff more than $705,000 and entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO. Learn more >


▶︎ November 2021 - The Australian Red Cross Society entered into two Enforceable Undertakings with the FWO and it is estimated the organisation will back-pay employees over $25 million. Learn more >


▶︎ June 2021 - Aboriginal Hostels Limited back-paid staff more than $2.7 million after entering into an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO. Learn more >


▶︎ May 2021 - The NSW branch of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA NSW) is back-paying staff more than $220,000 under an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO. Learn more >


▶︎ April 2021 - Mental health, community care and disability services provider Wellways Australia Limited is back-paying staff more than $1.5 million after entering into an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO. Learn more >


▶︎ March 2021 - Disability services provider Breakthru Ltd is back-paying employees more than $2.7 million and has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO. Learn more >


The FWO’s 2022-23 Annual Report reveals that more than half a billion dollars was recovered for underpaid workers across the country during the past financial year – the second-largest annual figure in Fair Work's history.


As a component of the figures outlined in the 2023-23 Annual Report, the FWO entered into Enforceable Undertakings with companies and organisations, recovering millions of dollars for workers through extensive investigations and complex calculations that uncovered the full extent of underpayments.


To mitigate the risk of underpaying staff, employers should regularly review their enterprise agreements and the relevant Modern Awards to ensure that all mandatory payments, including hourly rates, overtime, penalties and allowances, are being paid correctly. In addition, make sure you are using valid, well-drafted employment agreements.

For industrial relations support and practical assistance with workplace compliance, enterprise bargaining and business risk mitigation, please contact us today.


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