iKeep Bookkeeping | University blames ‘historical issues’ in payroll systems, processes

University blames ‘historical issues’ in payroll systems, processes

James Cook University (JCU) is taking immediate action following the discovery of historical deficiencies in its payroll systems and processes, potentially resulting in improper payments to casual staff. Preliminary analyses have revealed concerns regarding minimum hours and other entitlements. Professor Simon Biggs, the Vice Chancellor, has expressed sincere regret over these revelations. While the full extent of the impact on the workforce is still being assessed, rectifying these errors is of paramount importance.

The university is committed to ensuring accurate compensation for casual staff and swiftly resolving any past discrepancies. Jonathan Strauss, representing the National Tertiary Education Union at JCU, has condemned the underpayment and pledged to ensure that all owed wages are fully recovered.

This issue is not unfamiliar to JCU; a similar situation arose in 2022 involving significant underpayments in superannuation over an extended period. As a result, JCU has assembled a dedicated team to review its payroll records and processes. The university has pledged to implement robust improvements and provide regular updates to the Fair Work Ombudsman throughout the review process.

Michael McNally, NTEU Queensland Secretary, has acknowledged JCU’s transparency in engaging with the Fair Work Ombudsman. However, he emphasizes that systemic issues within the sector are facilitating widespread wage theft, with national losses now exceeding $170 million. Recent revelations of underpayments by the Australian Catholic University underscore the magnitude of the problem.

McNally urges federal and state governments to take decisive action, expressing concern that without substantial reforms, such as those outlined in the Universities Accord response, the higher education sector will continue to grapple with wage and entitlement theft.



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