Scope (Aust) confirms Disability Support Worker underpayment

Scope (Aust) Ltd (Scope) confirms it underpaid overtime entitlements and base rates of pay to some current and former Scope Disability Support workers.

The underpayments are confined to the historical enterprise agreement, which applied to Disability Support Workers until early December 2019.  The causes of the underpayments were an incorrect interpretation of applicable overtime provisions under the historical enterprise agreement, and instances where the required increases to base rates of pay for ordinary hours of work were not correctly applied in all cases. A comprehensive payroll review has found that the total underpayment is in the order of $326,000 over six years from December 2013 to December 2019. The issue has affected approximately 1,470 past and current Disability Support Workers. The majority of impacted employees were underpaid by less than $200.

In addition to reimbursing the underpaid monies, Scope is also giving impacted staff an additional goodwill payment of at least $200.

‘On behalf of the Scope Board, let me pass on my sincere apologies to our staff impacted by this matter. Our support workers are delivering essential services in line with our mission and we are determined to resolve this for them. All of our staff, customers and the broader community can be assured that we are taking this matter very seriously,’ said Scope Chair, David Lloyd Jones.

‘It is disappointing that this underpayment has occurred, and I reiterate the Chair’s comments and note that I am also very sorry for it. Scope is committed to ensure that all current and former staff are provided with their correct entitlements as soon as possible,’ said Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO of Scope.

‘We are in the process of contacting each impacted employee to inform them of the amounts owing and to organise timely reimbursement of their entitlements. Scope is also making an additional goodwill payment to each impacted staff member.’

‘Scope engaged professional support, including forensic accountants (Grant Thornton) and additional payroll expertise to determine the precise amounts owed to staff. We have established a helpline to assist current and former employees.’

‘Scope promptly self-reported this issue to the Fair Work Ombudsman and is fully cooperating with the Ombudsman’s enquiries as we move towards making timely reimbursement of the payments owed.’

‘We are also determined to ensure such errors cannot occur again,’ said Dr Fitzgerald.

Dr Fitzgerald noted that Scope has a new enterprise agreement with its Disability Support Workers which was approved by the Fair Work Commission in December 2019. This new agreement has provided greater clarity about the application of rates and provisions, and Scope has implemented robust payroll practices to ensure that employees are paid correctly.

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Mark Paterson
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