Rockpool: The importance of getting your employee wages and entitlements correct

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As a result of a process described by Rockpool Dining Group (Rockpool), in their press release of Sunday 14 October 2018 as a “reconciliation review of annualised salaries for eligible employees”, Rockpool is making what they refer to as “top up payments” to employees in the order of approximately $1.6m and covering only the 2017-2018 financial year.

 

Rockpool includes the Australian Rockpool Bar and Grill venues and other restaurants and bars. Earlier this year, in a separate press release, Neil Perry made a statement denying that Rockpool had any issues with respect to employee wages and entitlements.

In their subsequent 14 October press release, Rockpool cited as contributing to the underpayment, their 2,400 employees with an annual payroll of approximately $100m overall, as well as “disparate payroll systems and the complexity of multiple shifts, sites and rosters” which they described as “pos[ing] an industry-wide challenge”.

This originally started as an anonymous staff claim that overtime was being paid incorrectly.

Generally speaking, any salary for an employee covered by an award must be greater than the entitlement of that employee calculated against the employee wages and entitlements under the award.  Many employers conduct a regular assessment against any salary package against the award to ensure that their employees are at least receiving the minimum wage and entitlements they would receive if they were being paid solely in accordance with the award.

It appears that at least some Rockpool staff were paid such annualised salaries as provided for in the relevant Award.  The “reconciliation review” conducted by Rockpool was noted in their 14 October press release as “required to ensure that award employees who receive an annualised salary are appropriately compensated, taking account of minimum award terms and conditions.  Where, following a reconciliation process, an employer assesses that an employee would have received more on award terms, a “top up” payment is made.”

For many small businesses, rectifying backdated employee wage and entitlements could have grave impacts, particularly if there is a large monetary correction required.  It is clearly imperative to ensure that each business understands and pays employee wages and entitlements correctly right from the start. 

At Coutts we regularly advise clients in relation to their obligations and responsibilities under the relevant Awards.  We also prepare employee agreements that are clear, practical and accurate, to avoid, among other things, any inaccuracies with employee wages and entitlements.

For further information, or a review of your company constitution or agreements, please don’t hesitate to contact:

Alexandra Johnstone
Partner
alexandra@couttslegal.com.au
02 4607 2110