Computer glitch leaves 25 workers unpaid

A COMPUTER glitch has resulted in 25 factory workers being short-changed $45,000 in leave entitlements over eight years.

A Nambucca Heads factory found itself in hot water after an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman discovered the business had set up its wages system incorrectly, resulting in ongoing miscalculations of leave and superannuation entitlements.

The male workers, aged between 20 and 60, were underpaid $45,000 between 2007 and 2015.

The mistake only came to light after the wife of one of the workers contacted the Fair Work Ombudsman for advice after hearing her husband's grievances.

The system error failed to calculate almost 1100 hours of annual leave and about 1300 hours of sick leave.

One current employee was short-changed almost a year's worth of annual leave entitlements.

After being contacted by Fair Work inspectors, the employer promptly rectified the issue.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the matter illustrates what can happen when a wages system isn't installed and programmed correctly.

"A mistake made eight years ago has now resulted in this business having to find $45,000 that it had not budgeted for," she said.

Other recent recoveries include $10,000 for a 21-year-old apprentice spraypainter at a mechanical repair business in Coffs Harbour who was short-changed his minimum hourly rate of pay and termination entitlements.

A clerical worker at an accommodation venue in Coffs Harbour was also incorrectly classified and underpaid her minimum hourly rate, leave loading and termination entitlements by $5400.

Ms James said the instances highlighted the importance of employers ensuring they understood their workplace obligations and to seek advice where necessary.

"When we find mistakes, our preference is to educate employers about their obligations and assist them to put processes in place to ensure the errors are not repeated," Ms James said.

She encouraged employers who had any uncertainty about whether their workplace practices were appropriate to visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

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