First published: Thursday 13 July, 2023 Last updated Wednesday 25 October, 2023
Employee payments remediation
The main issues relate to:
- Some casual professional services staff payments (including for payment of shift penalties going back to 2019 and payments for minimum hours going back to 2016)
- Some non-casual staff payments (some payment of weekend shift penalties and leave accruals for part-time and rostered staff, long service leave accrual for staff with multiple positions and post-casual conversion, and Special Additional Leave deductions following the COVID-19 pandemic and some exit payments since 2017)
The University is committed to ensuring staff receive the payments they are entitled to and is moving swiftly to ensure compliance with its Enterprise Agreements and relevant workplace laws.
Form for affected former University of Wollongong staffFormer employee verification of contact details
Staff members impacted
The anomalies affect some current and former casual staff and a limited number of non-casual staff. The University is undertaking a process of auditing and accurately identifying staff liabilities.
While the exact extent of the underpayment will be subject to an independent external audit, our current estimate suggests approximately 6,000 current and former staff members may be affected and remediation payments to staff could cost the University around $8 million.
The University will notify all affected current and former staff members directly with detailed information. Former staff can register their current contact details through a secure online form.
Those who require support completing the online secure form can call the UOW Employee Payments Remediation Hotline – 02 4221 4000, Mon-Fri, between 9 am and 4.30 pm.
The University is committed to undertaking a comprehensive and transparent remediation process that will fully reimburse affected staff members.
What issues were found
Underpayment is limited to some current and former casual staff payments of shift penalties1 and minimum hours2, a limited number of staff where the University incorrectly calculated payments for Special Additional Leave3 and a limited number of current and former staff who received incorrectly calculated leave accruals and exit payments4. The University will not be looking to recover net overpayments.
- UOW Professional Services Enterprise Agreement (PSEA) clause 23.2, 36.2.1 & 38.1
- UOW PSEA clause 23.4, 23.5, 23.6 and undertaking 2
- UOW Academic Staff Enterprise Agreement (ASEA) Variation of the EBA clause 5.0, 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0
- weekend shift penalties (PSEA clause 38.1.4, 38.1.5 and undertaking 5), leave accruals for part and rostered staff (PSEA clauses 53 and 56), Long service leave accrual for staff with multiple positions, Long Service Leave post casual conversion (PSEA clause 56 and ASEA clause 49), some exit payments since 2017 (PSEA clauses 50.7, 50.8, 50.9, 50.11, and 50.12, ASEA clauses 39.6, 39.7, 39.8, 39.10, and 39.11).
Remediation (Updated 25th October 2023)
The University is continuing to work through the pay-related issues announced by the Vice Chancellor on 13 July 2023. The University is working closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman and have engaged a reputable, independent, external service provider to undertake a forensic audit to comprehensively identify issues and affected employees. The service provider will work with the University to quantify the remediation payments for each affected employee. This is a complex process, and UOW is aiming, at this stage, to make payments to affected employees by Q3 2024.
The current focus for the University is to make changes to systems, processes and practice across the University, as well as changes to the UOW Enterprise Agreements, to ensure compliance and accuracy of payments going forward. Review of process design, as well as certain system upgrades, is underway, and the University is negotiating relevant changes to the Enterprise Agreements with the unions. The service provider will also work with the University to develop recommendations to strengthen and streamline the suite of pay-related entitlement controls.
Through the remediation process, all issues will be fully addressed. The University intends to fully repay affected employees using a methodology that is endorsed by the Fair Work Ombudsman, to ensure payments are accurate. Payments will be made as promptly as possible and as this process progresses, communication with staff, students, and all relevant stakeholders, will be maintained.
Former, affected individuals can register their current contact details via our secure online form. Those who require support completing the online secure form can call the UOW Employee Payments Remediation Hotline – 02 4221 4000, Mon-Fri, between 9 am and 4.30 pm. Current staff members do not need to complete this form.
1. What are the main issues?
On Thursday 13 July, UOW announced that it had identified and is addressing pay errors affecting some former and current staff.
The University is still reviewing and quantifying the scale of the issue, but it mainly affects casual professional services staff.
2. Specific Issues
Casual professional services staff payments (including for payment of some shift penalties going back to 2019, and some payments for minimum hours going back to 2016).
Non-casual staff payment issues include some instances of incorrect calculation of:
- Weekend shift penalties
- Leave accruals for part-time and rostered staff
- Long service leave accrual for staff with multiple positions or post casual conversion
- Some Special Additional Leave deductions following the Covid-19 pandemic
- Some exit payments going back to 2017
3. What has been done about it
UOW is committed to a comprehensive, proactive and transparent remediation process. We are expediting efforts to contact affected staff as a priority and will provide clear and concise communications about next steps, including the remediation of any payments owed.
UOW is taking immediate steps to enhance systems and processes to prevent similar issues from happening again. New checks and balances are being implemented in the payroll system, and guidance is provided for staff managing payments.
The University is also engaging an independent external auditor to determine accurately the period in which underpayments occurred, the quantum of any underpayments, and the methodology of remediation. Throughout the remediation process, all issues will be fully addressed.
The remediation process will involve detailed work to identify, assess and address underpayments to those impacted. We expect pay remediation for affected staff to take six to twelve months.
4. Have any regulators been notified?
The University has notified and will work closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), and the NSW Auditor General.
5. Who else knows about this issue?
UOW has sent a message to all current staff from the Vice-Chancellor notifying them of this issue. Staff unions have also been notified.
We are working to contact affected staff as a priority and will be providing clear and concise communications about next steps.
A UOW Employee Payments Remediation Hotline (02 4221 4000), has also been set up for former staff who need support completing the online secure form. The hotline is open Mon-Fri, between 9 am and 4.30 pm.
6. How many people are affected?
The majority of people affected are current and former casual professional staff. Some non-casual professional services and academic staff are also affected, relating to incorrectly calculated leave accruals, Special Additional Leave and exit payments.
While the exact extent of the underpayment will be subject to an independent external audit, our current estimate suggest approximately 6,000 current and former staff members may be affected and remediation payments to staff could cost the University around $8 million.
7. How will I know if I am affected?
The University will notify all affected current staff members directly with detailed information about how they have been affected.
The University will contact all former UOW staff with known contact details. If former staff contact details have changed, the University will endeavour to reach these staff promptly.
Former staff can register their contact details with us via the secure online form. Former staff who need support completing the online secure form can call the UOW Employee Payments Remediation Hotline (02 4221 4000), Mon-Fri, between 9 am and 4.30 pm.
8. I work/worked at the UOW college/UOW pulse/UOW global enterprises. Could my pay be affected?
UOW Global Enterprises (UOWGE), UOW Pulse (formerly UniCentre and the University Recreation and Aquatic Centre (URAC) and UOW College use separate payroll systems, and no employee payment anomalies have been identified in these payroll systems.
9. How much money can people expect to be paid?
Each affected person’s circumstances are different, and the issues impacting staff are varied depending on individual records and entitlements (timesheets, payslips and duration of time worked). Each affected current or former employee will be notified of the details of their circumstances.
10. Do I have to pay money back if I have been overpaid?
The University does not anticipate a significant number of employees being overpaid. The University will not seek to recover overpayments due to these errors.
11. How much money will this cost UOW?
While the precise scale of underpayment is still being analysed, current estimates put the remediation cost to the University at $8M.
The University is engaging an independent external auditor to determine the exact extent of any underpayments.
In context, UOW's reported overall employee costs for 2022 were approximately $376 million.
12. How will this affect UOW’s budget?
UOW’s financial position is steadily recovering, following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed and able to fund remediation without curtailing normal University operations.
13. Will there be an official review?
We are initiating a comprehensive remediation project to render our payroll system and processes fully compliant, and controls have been introduced to prevent these errors' recurrence.
This work will be monitored by our University Risk, Audit and Compliance Committee, a committee of the University's governing body: the University Council. Throughout the remediation process, all issues will be fully addressed comprehensively.
14. How did these errors occur?
These anomalies were caused by several factors, including incorrect implementation in University business processes following changes to the University’s Professional Staff Enterprise Agreement (and subsequent Fair Work undertakings) in 2019, incorrect implementation of minimum hours provisions dating back to 2016, and incorrect calculation of some non-casual staff payments (some leave accrual calculations and exit payments since 2017).
15. Who or what caused these errors?
These were not deliberate errors, nor were they easily detectable. UOW's priority is ensuring underpayments are remediated as quickly as possible and taking action to prevent a recurrence.
UOW sincerely apologises to all impacted staff and is fully committed to ensuring all current and former staff are paid according to their entitlements.
16. Can the causes be fixed?
A remediation project team has been assembled and tasked to:
- Oversee the remediation of underpayments to current and former employees
- Ensure UOW payroll systems and business processes are made fully compliant
- Develop and introduce controls that will prevent a recurrence
Remediation involves detailed work to identify, assess and address underpayments to those impacted. Remediation of pay for affected staff could take six to twelve months, depending on how long it will take to thoroughly check individual records and timesheets and UOW’s ability to reach former staff whose contact details have changed.
More information will be provided as remediation progresses. Affected staff will be contacted directly with personalised communications, clearly laying out a full repayment amount, and when to expect payment. Staff will receive comprehensive support and ongoing communications throughout the remediation process.
17. What do I need to do now?
You don't need to do anything if you are a current staff member. If you have been affected, you will be notified directly about your individual circumstances soon.
If you are a former staff member, so that we can contact you directly to notify you if you’ve been affected, please register your current contact details via the secure online form. If you need support completing the online secure form, you can contact the UOW Employee Payments Remediation Hotline (02 4221 4000), Mon-Fri, between 9 am and 4.30 pm.
18. When will I receive the money owed to me?
Firstly, we need to confirm if you have been affected and notify you of the exact details of your individual circumstances. If underpayments need to be remediated, that will occur as soon as possible. Payments will be made to your nominated bank account and superannuation fund. Remediation payments will be made as soon as possible, but this process may take six to 12 months.
19. How do I register to be notified if I have been affected?
Current staff don’t need to register, as UOW holds up-to-date contact details, and if affected, you’ll be contacted directly.
Former staff are asked to register current contact details via our secure online form any time. If you need support completing the online secure form, you can contact the UOW Employee Payments Remediation Hotline (02 4221 4000), Mon-Fri, between 9 am and 4.30 pm. Current staff do not need to register.
20. Can I speak to someone in person?
Yes. If you would like to speak to someone to register your current contact details, please call the UOW Employee Payments Remediation Hotline (02 4221 4000), Mon-Fri, between 9 am and 4.30 pm.
For affected former UOW staff members
If you have been contacted by UOW advising you're an affected former staff member, please follow the steps in that communication. This might include confirming your contact details so that UOW can provide further information about payments owed. If you need support completing the online secure form, please call the UOW Employee Payments Remediation Hotline – 02 4221 4000 Mon-Fri, between 9 am and 4.30 pm.
For affected current UOW staff members
More information for current staff about the employee payments remediation, including updated processes for ensuring accurate payment to staff according to their entitlements, are available on the staff intranet.
Give feedback or make a formal complaint
The University always welcomes feedback. To provide feedback, visit UOW Feedback.
Formal complaints can also be placed via the Complaints Centre.