Q – How did WHSmith discover this?
A. In late 2018, we discovered the compliance issues relating to the interpretation of the GRIA and the FFIA within our existing payroll system. These issues were identified in the course of completing parallel pay runs in preparation for a change to Roubler. We started trading in Australia just as the laws regulating rates of pay changed. From what we can tell, our payroll systems at that time were not robust enough to adapt to the full scope of this change, and some of the more unique pay rules under the General Retail Industry Award 2010 (GRIA) and the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 (FFIA) were not properly coded in our systems. This meant that overtime rates and loadings paid to employees during this time may not have been applied correctly.
Q – How much money have I been underpaid?
A. At this time we are still doing the calculations. Every staff members situation is different depending on your length of service, award, role, classification and your pattern of work. And because the error dates back to 2010, we have to check the records of all current and former employees. If you have been identified as being owed additional money, we will contact you and advise you of the details as soon as we can.
Q – What process is WHSmith taking to calculate potential back pay?
A. We are working with the Fair Work Ombudsman, together with external advisors, to calculate any underpayments. Interest will be added on to each calculation and we will use the standard interest rate suggested by the Federal Court of 4.25%.
Q – How do I know the calculations are correct?
A. The calculations are being processed by Deloitte Australia, an expert in payroll auditing. Timesheets and payroll data back to the commencement of our operations in Australia will be re-run through their compliance and automated systems. We are also consulting with the Fair Work Ombudsman and welcome their contribution to the process. If you have been identified as being owed additional money, we will provide you with a breakdown of these calculations for your review. If you have any concerns about the calculations provided to you, please email Award Compliance at email@example.com or phone 02 9098 2897
Q – How can I be sure I’ll be paid correctly from now on?
A. On 28 April 2019 we will roll out Roubler, a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) which includes a payroll module that interprets the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA) and Fast Food Industry Award (FFIA) automatically and ensures the correct rates are paid to you moving forward. It was during the testing of this system that the historical issues were discovered. This system will be updated regularly to ensure ongoing award compliance. If you have queries regarding your pay at any time, please contact your manager in the first instance. If they cannot answer your question, please contact our Payroll Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org and we will review your query and work with you to resolve it as quickly as possible. If you are unhappy with our response at any stage, you always have the right to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Q – Will this affect my tax, HECS/HELP/TSL or Centrelink?
A. There could be flow-on effects to your tax, HECS/HELP/TSL or Centrelink. We have committed to fixing the issue in the most comprehensive and transparent manner possible, which is by repaying what we owe, plus interest, to everyone who’s been affected by this error. We will action any of the statutory deductions as required by the government.
Q – How will this affect my superannuation?
A. Where any underpayment to you includes a wage that would have been eligible for superannuation, we will also pay this into your elected superannuation fund.
Q – How are you going to contact former staff?
A. We will contact every employee who’s been affected by this – past and present, so we can make sure everyone is paid properly. If you know somebody who worked for the business during that time, please ask them to register their details via our website at email@example.com Current staff don’t need to do this. We will be using contact details on record, including emergency contacts and next of kin, as well as social media in order to contact former employees. We will engage external assistance to track down past employees, but if after all these efforts we’re not able to find some individuals, we’ll entrust their back payment to the Fair Work Ombudsman and any additional superannuation to the Australian Tax Office, so their money is always there should they come forward in the future.
Q – I work in Fresh + and have a different Award to WHSmith. Have I still been impacted by this payroll error?
A. Employees who Work in Fresh+ operate under the Fast Food Industry Award (FFIA) may also have been impacted by this and are part of the review process.
Q – I work in Supanews. Have I still been impacted by this payroll error?
A. Employees who work in our Corporate Supanews and Wild stores fall under the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA) and will be included in the review process. Employees of our Franchisee partners in Wild and Supanews are not paid via WHSmith. They are paid by the Franchisee directly.
Q – I work in the Support Office and on a salary. Does this affect me?
A. Employees in the Support office or who are salaried are not impacted by this payroll error. It only applies to employees engaged in our stores.
Q – When will I get the next update?
A. We will update the website as soon as we have new information – www.whsmith.com.au. Once we have reviewed your individual situation we will be writing to you to explain our findings.
Q – How long will this process take?
A. It is difficult to be sure, but we need to be up front and say it could take some months. We are working hard to get it resolved as soon as possible. We are in constant consultation with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure that our review is as fair and accurate as possible.
Q – When did you first know about this error?
A. We became aware of some of these errors during testing of our new payroll system in late 2018, which prompted us to investigate further. It was not until relatively recently that we discovered the full extent of these issues.
Q – How do you know these are the only errors in the old payroll system?
A. We have engaged Deloitte, a top international accounting firm with payroll expertise, to review our past payroll processes and to identify issues where they have been lacking. They are still conducting their review and based on work to date we do not expect further material errors. Any further under payments identified will be rectified and the employees in question will be reimbursed, with interest.
Q – Have you reported this to the authorities?
A. Yes, we have informed the Fair Work Ombudsman of this situation and are working with them to ensure we get an accurate and speedy resolution to this situation.
Q – Who is the Fair Work Ombudsman?
A. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), is an independent statutory agency of the Government of Australia that investigates workplace complaints and enforces compliance with national workplace laws. You can read more about the Fair Work Ombudsman at www.fairwork.gov.au
Q – What if you tell me that you don’t owe me any money. How do I know this is true?
A. We want to correct any past issues in full. That’s why we have engaged Deloitte to carry out all the analysis of our payroll issues. We have shared this information with the Fair Work Ombudsman who we are consultation with. We are confident that the results of the review will be accurate, and all findings will be passed to the Ombudsman for review. If you are concerned about the accuracy of this finding, you are welcome to contact our Payroll Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 9098 2897 to discuss the matter further or contact the Fair Work Ombudsman directly.