Disability Support Worker – Payroll Update

Frequently Asked Questions

Please refer to the FAQs below or contact our support hotline for any queries.

Support Hotline

Hotline for current and former staff:

Scope has set up an employee hotline for further questions.

Question?

Call: 03 8840 4950

Email: scopebackpay@scopeaust.org.au

Frequently Asked Questions

We discovered historical payroll errors that resulted in the underpayment of overtime entitlements and base rates of pay to some disability support workers. The errors occurred under our old enterprise agreement with disability support workers – the Scope (Victoria) Ltd – Health Services Union of Australia – Disability Services Sector- Certified Agreement 2005.

We discovered the errors as we were implementing payroll changes in line with the new enterprise agreement which commenced in mid December 2019 and, at the same time preparing for a routine audit earlier this year,

We’re now working hard to make this right for our staff and ensure timely reimbursements.

We have also self reported this to the Fair Work Ombudsman and are cooperating with them.

We have identified that the staff affected are Disability Support Workers who were employed by Scope Aust Ltd between December 2013 and December 2019. About 1470 permanent and casual staff (current and former) are affected by the underpayments.

No Home@Scope seconded staff is affected.

On the data available to us, the erroneous payroll practices were in place from financial year 2012/2013 until the new enterprise agreement (Scope Enterprise Agreement 2019) commenced operation in mid December 2019.

The overtime error arose from an incorrect interpretation of the overtime clauses in the old enterprise agreement.  (The Scope (Victoria) Ltd – Health Services Union of Australia – Disability Services Sector- Certified Agreement 2005.)

In addition, there were instances where the required increases to base rates of pay for ordinary hours of work were not correctly applied.  This occurred due to a complexity in the legislation, which requires that higher minimum base rates in the industry modern award be applied instead of the lower base rates in the old enterprise agreement.

Whilst Scope had generally applied the minimum base rates in the modern award (or higher rates), there were instances where this did not occur, resulting in an underpayment of base rates of pay for some permanent and casual DSWs.

Yes. We want to resolve this matter and to ensure that all former and current staff are provided with their correct entitlements as soon as possible.

We engaged forensic accountants Grant Thornton to conduct an independent payroll audit to identify how much was owed to staff. We’ll be contacting each person impacted to inform them of the amount owed and organise reimbursement. We’re also making an additional goodwill payment to those people affected.

Yes, where employer superannuation contributions were required to be made on the original payments, we will ensure that all superannuation is paid.

We will make interest payments on the underpayments at the simple interest rate of 5.25% per annum.

For current employees, your backpay will be paid directly into the bank account via which you receive your normal pay.  Please note that your back-payment is work related income; and will therefore be subject to normal tax treatment first.

We are in the process of contacting former employees to verify the best payment method for receiving back-pay.

We will work as quickly as possible to process back-payments to affected employees.

We would be hoping to finalise many back-payments within a month after each affected person receives a letter from Scope outlining the amount owed to them personally.

We are working through the circumstances in which receiving backpay may affect an employee’s financial situation.  Scope is committed to minimising any financial disadvantage arising from an employee receiving backpay.

We acknowledge that there were some limitations in the data, so this goodwill payment is made to all impacted DSWs (current and former) to remove any doubt about whether employees have been adequately compensated for overtime entitlements under the old enterprise agreement.  It is also provided as recognition from Scope that we are sorry for the mistake and any inconvenience caused.  The quantum of the goodwill payment is $200 for each impacted employee who is owed $1, 000 or less. This represents the vast majority of people affected.  For those owed more than $1,000, we will pay them an additional 20% of the actual amount owing to them.

In addition, Scope is voluntarily treating casual employees (who were not entitled to overtime rates under the old enterprise agreement) the same as part-time employees (who were entitled to overtime rates) for the purposes of rectification of overtime rates.

This was an historical mistake which stopped when we implemented our new Enterprise Agreement in December 2019. We can also confirm that the correct base rates and overtime rates are now being paid in accordance with the new Agreement.

We are also reviewing how we can further improve our payroll management systems.

We’re confident this is a historical issue that impacted some of our disability support workers under their previous Enterprise agreement – the Scope (Victoria) Ltd – Health Services Union of Australia – Disability Services Sector- Certified Agreement 2005.

It does not affect other staff such as therapy staff.

Home@Scope staff are also not impacted as their terms were secured separately under the transfer from the Victorian Government.

We have set up an employee helpline for further questions, please call 03 8840 4950 or email scopebackpay@scopeaust.org.au to speak to someone about your individual circumstances.

Scope’s staff are our main priority. We have also reported the errors to the Fair Work Ombudsman and are fully cooperating with the Ombudsman’s enquiries.  We are also informing key stakeholders such as government departments, union and funding bodies.

The FWO is still considering its compliance response to Scope’s self-disclosure.