Australia: Coles store managers underpaid $20 million over six years

Author: Dominic Powell & Anna Patty, The Age, Published on: 17 February 2020

"Government warns companies to 'get house in order' after Coles workers underpaid", 18 February 2020

...Coles had underpaid about 600 staff $20 million over the past six years.


Five per cent of the company's liquor salaried managers were...underpaid, with Coles flagging $3 million in provisions for backpayment and an additional $1 million in interest and costs.


Coles chief executive Steven Cain apologised to his staff who had been "unintentionally affected" by the underpayments and said the company was currently working "at pace" with auditors Deloitte and lawyers at Herbert Smith Freehills to complete a review into the underpayment.


James Cook, chief investment officer at ethical investment house U Ethical, one of Coles' top thirty shareholders, said he was disappointed with Coles' level of disclosure around the underpayments issue, noting there "wasn't a lot of clarity" for investors following the announcement this morning.


...[A] spokesman for Coles had told media it had "no update" on its underpayment audit.

Coles managers received notice last week saying the company had "identified inconsistencies in clocking [on] patterns and salaried team member ways of working". The notice also reinforced store managers should not be working more than their specified hours per week.


Coles joins a number of other high-profile retailers who have been found to underpay staff in recent times, which include Super Retail Group, Michael Hill Jewellers, Domino's and Bunnings.

Other retailers also undertaking reviews following Woolworths' mammoth underpayment include IGA supplier Metcash and upmarket department store David Jones.

A Metcash spokesperson said no "material underpayments" had yet been identified. David Jones said its audit was continuing.


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Related companies: Bunnings Warehouse Coles Group Domino's Pizza Michael Hill Super Retail Group Woolworths Group