Casual Department of Education employees to be backpaid following years of underpayment

Casual staff hired by the Department of Education will be repaid millions, after revelations of being underpaid by the department.

The Department of Education will make back payments estimated at a total of $4.9 million to 27,000 casual cleaners, gardeners and home economics assistants, after a human resources officer identified the underpayment.

Backpayments will include salary, casual loading and superannuation, dating back to 1998.

7,100 of the employees affected are current casual staff, with 49 per cent of these workers underpaid by less than $100 and 91 per cent by less than $500.

The State Government said the issue involved an hourly pay rate error dating back to 1983, when the standard working hours for the employees were reduced from 40 hours per week to 38.

It resulted in the underpayment of 24 minutes for each full day worked or a proportion of 24 minutes for each part day worked because the department’s system was not updated to match the change of hours.

Current underpaid workers will receive payment on December 24 while former employees will be paid on February 2020.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said the mistake was unfortunate.

“This historic underpayment to casual cleaners, gardeners and home economics assistants is highly regrettable,” Ms Ellery said.

“However, it’s reassuring that when the problem was confirmed in October last year, the Department of Education launched a wide-ranging investigation and moved to fix the error so all affected employees could be paid as soon as possible.”

She said that the government would compensate the employees more than what was required.

“While the department is only required by law to back pay for the past six years, I have instructed that the back payment must extend to 21 years because that is the right thing to do for these staff who have worked in good faith,” Ms Ellery said.

“I want to reassure all former and current casual cleaners, gardeners and home economics assistants that the issue is being addressed immediately so they are paid what they are entitled to.”

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