University Blames ‘historical Issues’ In Payroll Syst

Courtesy of Australian Payroll Association

James Cook University has taken immediate action upon discovering historical inadequacies within its payroll system and processes, which potentially resulted in improper payment of casual staff. Initial analyses have identified concerns regarding minimum hours and other entitlements. Vice Chancellor, Professor Simon Biggs, has expressed sincere regret over these findings. While the full impact on the workforce is still being evaluated, addressing the errors is a priority.

The university is dedicated to accurately compensating casual staff and resolving past discrepancies swiftly. Jonathan Strauss, representative of the National Tertiary Education Union at JCU, condemned the underpayment, vowing to ensure all due wages are fully recovered.

This issue isn’t new for JCU; a similar situation arose in 2022 involving substantial underpayments in superannuation over an extensive period. Consequently, JCU has established a dedicated team for an exhaustive review of its payroll records and processes, pledging robust improvements and regular updates to the Fair Work Ombudsman during the review process.

Michael McNally, NTEU Queensland Secretary, has acknowledged JCU’s transparency with the FWO but insists systemic issues in the sector are fostering widespread wage theft, now surpassing $170 million nationally. Recent disclosures by the Australian Catholic University of underpayments highlight the scale of the issue.

McNally urges federal and state governments to intervene, fearing without substantial reforms, such as those suggested in the Universities Accord response, the higher education sector will continue to witness wage and entitlement theft.

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