Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker has announced the regulator’s strategic priorities for the year ahead.

Parker said that investigating large corporate underpayments remained a priority for the regulator.

“We are currently investigating about 50 large corporates that have self-reported non-compliance," she said.

"Since mid-2021, we have commenced court actions against Woolworths Group, Commonwealth Bank and Coles which are ongoing, and we expect to take further high-level enforcement action against a range of large corporates this year."

Woolworths, owner of apparel chain Big W, revealed its wage theft bill had blown out to at least $571 million earlier this year.

In February, it announced that newly discovered payroll errors led to a further $144 million in underpayments for hourly paid staff, adding to the $427 million it had already disclosed for salaried workers.

Further underpaid staff may yet be found as part of an ongoing review of its payroll system.

“We are disappointed to have identified further inadvertent underpayments and unreservedly apologise to our affected team members,” Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said at the time.

A number of underpayment scandals have rocked the sector in recent years, including at Michael Hill, MJ Bale, Sunglass Hut and Wesfarmers.

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