In late 2020 the University commenced a review into issues related to the potential underpayment of some employees during the period March 2014 to March 2023. This review was proactively commissioned by the University following the identification of staff underpayments across the higher education sector.
The initial review has now been extended to review a number of other types of pay entitlements to assess whether there are any further suspected underpayments.
If this affects you
Affected current and past employees will be contacted directly. Anyone receiving a back payment will first receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org or a text message to their last recorded mobile phone number.
If you are a former employee and have received advice that you are affected, please verify your information and identity through this secure online portal. This portal has been established to facilitate secure exchange of all relevant details and to help co-ordinate remediation. Alternatively, you can contact our dedicated project support team via email on email@example.com or via phone 1800 955 886 or +61 3 6226 6292.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why has the University extended this review?
As the University progressed with the review throughout 2022, considering huge amounts of data and communicating with thousands of current and former staff, we continued to conduct risk assessments. While there is not yet certainty, there is potential for underpayments in some types of entitlements.
As a result, the University has decided to extend this project to review the historic data relating to selected elements of Superannuation, Long-Service-Leave, Personal (Sick and Carers’) Leave and Academic Working Arrangements, among other areas.
Further information will be shared with staff regarding the timeline of this review and the entitlements under consideration throughout the latter stages of 2023.
Background to the Historical Payments Review
UTAS proactively commissioned the Historical Payments Review following the identification of staff underpayments across the higher education sector.
The review examined payments made to all staff employed under the University of Tasmania Staff Agreement 2013 -2016 and the University of Tasmania Staff Agreement 2017-2021. The review covered the period 2014 to 2023 and included all types of employees (e.g. casual, full-time, part-time, ongoing and fixed term), both academic and professional.
The review did not include employees who are not employed under a UTAS enterprise agreement.
The review was conducted by external professional services firms and involved a comparison of the amounts paid to employees during the relevant period against the amounts that were properly payable to employees. The review identified some UTAS employees have not been paid their full entitlements and the external firms have assisted UTAS in calculating the amounts owed to employees, plus superannuation and interest.
There were a number of factors that drove this review and the resultant system and process changes in progress:
- Proactive action based on sector-wide issues: early on, the University recognised that the higher education sector was experiencing a number of historical payment issues, and decided proactively to review our own practices
- A commitment to doing what’s right: the University was, and still is, committed to remedying any outstanding payments, including superannuation and interest
- An opportunity to improve our systems: in the spirit of continuous improvement, the University is committed to reviewing our systems for opportunities to streamline, and ensure ongoing pay compliance
- Desire for consistency in practices across the University: there have been historically inconsistent interpretations of our staff agreements, resulting in varying practices with regard to payment of staff.
The review identified some issues with our processes which have led to underpayment of some staff members. Issues identified primarily relate to the payment of entitlements to casual staff, shift allowances and overtime payments.
No. The payment errors identified in the University's review primarily affected casual staff, with a small number of errors affecting Academic and non-casual Professional staff members. However, our review was not limited to any particular group of employees covered by the University's enterprise agreements – we examined all part-time, full-time and casual arrangements for both Academic and Professional staff during this period.
Yes. We have proactively addressed this situation and self-reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
UTAS is committed to ensuring that staff are properly paid. Employees will receive a notification if they have been identified as being affected. Initial communications will be sent to affected employees as follows:
- affected employees who are still employed by UTAS will receive an email;
- affected employees who are no longer employed by UTAS will receive an email to their last known personal email address, which will be followed by a text message to their last known mobile phone number. Further correspondence may be sent by post to the last known postal address.
For former employees, the communications will ask that you verify your identity and your payment details through a secure online portal. We seek your assistance to undertake these steps, as without verification and confirmation of those details, UTAS will not be able to process any payments.
If you are a former employee and want to update your contact details now, you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 1800 955 886 or +61 3 6226 6292 between 9am and 4pm EST, Monday to Friday.
If you are a former employee, have not received any communications from UTAS and want to check if you are affected, you may contact us at email@example.com. Please provide your full name, UTAS Employee ID number (if known) and your date of birth for verification purposes.
If you have been informed that you are an affected employee, please ensure that your current payment and contact details are correct. If you are a former employee, please complete the verification process as soon as possible to ensure your payment can be processed.
After updating your details, you do not need to do anything else. You will separately receive a letter confirming the amounts to be paid to you.
UTAS will then proceed to make payment of any outstanding entitlements to you, minus any amounts we are required by law to withhold for tax or superannuation.
If you no longer have an active Australian bank account, payment can be made to your overseas bank, though there may be restrictions on our ability to make payments to bank accounts in certain countries. Further, your bank may apply fees to international transactions.
Unfortunately, we cannot pay any outstanding superannuation contributions to an overseas bank account as these must be paid into a complying superannuation fund. If you no longer have a superannuation account in Australia, we can open one for you with UniSuper, or you may choose to open a complying superannuation account with a different provider and we can make the payment to that fund.
Remediation payments to current staff will be made from April 2023 via the payroll system. The University is committed to making all remediation payments, including interest and superannuation for all those affected in as timely a manner as possible.
Once the University has verified the necessary details of an affected former staff member, including bank account and superannuation details, the remediation payment will be made within the following eight weeks.
In the event of a payment being due to a deceased former employee, the University will endeavour to contact the executor or administrator of the estate. Any amounts due will be payable to the deceased's estate or legal personal representative, as permitted or required by law.
This is being calculated based on your individual circumstances. You will receive the difference between the amount you have already been paid and the amount you should have been paid. Additionally, you will receive interest based on the Federal Court pre-judgement interest rates. Interest will be calculated from the date the underpayment first occurred. Superannuation will be calculated and paid on the entire amount to be repaid to you in accordance with applicable superannuation legislation. You will receive written notification which will include details of the amount to be paid to you.
As a first step, we compiled data from timesheets, rosters (both in PeopleSoft and from other sources) to build an accurate picture of when staff worked.
This data was processed by a model developed by the external professional services firm (based on the rules contained in the enterprise agreements) to calculate how much you should have been paid for working those hours.
The amount that you should have been paid for a pay period, as calculated by the model, was then compared to the amount that you were actually paid for that pay period. In terms of payments:
- where the amount you were actually paid was less that what the model says you should have been paid for that pay period, the difference between those figures is your shortfall for the pay period and will be paid to you;
- where the amount you were actually paid was more than what the model says you should have been paid for that pay period, no adjustment is made.
The calculations were conducted on a pay period basis, but for ease of payment and explanation the calculations in your outcome letter are set out on a financial year basis.
Numerous checks and validation processes were undertaken by the external provider and the UTAS project team to ensure the accuracy of the data and the calculations. These checks enabled us to identify, investigate and rectify issues arising from inaccurate or incomplete data sets.
Your payment outcome letter splits out various entitlements payable to you under the enterprise agreements as against the total amounts paid to you. Annexure A to your outcome sets out:
- the payments received by you in the second column; and
We have set out below an explanation of the components of the payments listed in Annexure A and more detail about when you would be entitled to receive each of these payments:
Minimum engagement period
This component applies to certain casual professional employees only.
Under the enterprise agreements, casual employees are (subject to certain exceptions) to be paid a minimum of three hours.
This represents the amount paid if a casual employee was not paid for a minimum of three hours.
Pay for hours worked
This represents the amount (if any) for:
Pay for call back
Under the enterprise agreements, certain professional employees are entitled to be paid an additional amount if they are called back to perform overtime without notice. A minimum four hour payment applies.
This represents the amount paid if the professional employee was not paid for the call back, or not paid for the correct amount of time.
Pay for allowances
This represents the amount for various allowances required to be paid under the enterprise agreement for certain work related purposes, for example, first aid allowance or higher duties allowance.
This does not include any allowances payable on a reimbursement basis (for example meal allowance).
Pay for periods of leave
This represent the amount required to be paid to staff while they are on leave.
This represents the amount required to be paid to staff upon cessation of employment (for any reasons) including annual leave that should have been paid out upon cessation.
You can find copies of the relevant enterprise agreements:
Any payments to staff including backpay must be reported to the Australian Taxation Office. Any payments may affect your eligibility for government benefits. It is strongly recommended that if you receive a back-payment amount and you are in receipt of benefits that you contact Services Australia (Centrelink) and seek their advice on the impact of backpay you receive on your individual circumstances. Centrelink phone numbers are available.
As the University reports to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) through Single Touch Payroll (STP), your payment summary information will be available in ATO online services through accessing myGov.
Superannuation and tax
Any additional superannuation contribution payable in respect to the back payment will be made into your nominated, complying superannuation fund. If no fund has been nominated UTAS may request UniSuper to open an account for this purpose.
Superannuation will be forwarded to your nominated fund in the next available pay run after your individual payment has been paid. This is in accordance with legislative requirements.
We are making an interest payment on the superannuation shortfall to compensate you for the lost opportunity to use the contributions that should have been made to grow your overall superannuation balance.
For current employees, unless otherwise requested, your payment will be made into your nominated fund of choice, currently recorded in the PeopleSoft (MyHR) system.
At your request, the University may be able to deposit the top-up payment into another nominated, complying superannuation accumulation fund of your choice. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former staff should follow the instructions via the former employee verification form.
To meet our obligations under superannuation legislation, the University is required to pay super contributions to either:
- a complying super fund which meets the specific requirements and obligations under superannuation law or,
- a retirement savings account (RSA): an account that provides a low cost and low risk savings strategy for retirement.
If you no longer have an active Australian superannuation account, the University will open a new UniSuper account for you (UniSuper will then contact you with your account details). Alternatively, you may choose to open an account with a complying superannuation provider. Instructions regarding this are available on the former employee verification form.
If your previous Australian superannuation account is inactive due to you being a temporary resident that has since moved overseas, then please review the ATO website at the below link for how to claim your superannuation from this newly set up UniSuper account through the Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) process:
Please also note that in order to protect accounts from fee erosion, inactive low-balance super accounts may be transferred to the ATO from UniSuper after 16 months of inactivity and therefore it is important to action the DASP process soon to access your funds in the most straightforward manner. Please refer to the ATO website at the below link for further information:
Payments of back pay received during the current tax year, including those that relate to earlier financial years, are included on your PAYG payment summary. As with any salary, tax has been withheld from payments of back pay in accordance with PAYG withholding rules at a rate prescribed by the ATO. If you received a remediation payment from the University during the current financial year, you will receive a payslip from the University in the period that you are paid that, where applicable, will include details of "Lump Sum E" payments. A Lump Sum E is an amount of back pay that accrued, or was payable, more than 12 months before the date of payment and is $1,200 or more.
Lump Sum E payments will need to be reported in your tax return as a lump sum payment. More information about reporting lump sum payments in your tax return is available on the ATO website. Back payments form part of your income and therefore are subject to income tax. This includes those that relate to earlier financial years, are included on your 2022-23 PAYG payment summary. Payments above $1200 and relating to a period which is more than 12 months before the payment date, may be classified as a Lump Sum Payment in Arrears (LSPIA) by the ATO. The University is unable to provide you with any financial advice. It is recommended you refer to the ATO website (refer: ATO - Lump Sum Payments in Arrears Tax Offsets) or speak to your financial adviser for further information.
Concurrently with undertaking the review, the University has taken steps to resolve the structural and systems issues that led to the payment errors which resulted in additional amounts being owed to employees. The University is also developing additional system and process controls to support the correct calculation of entitlements that minimise the need for manual inputs and approvals.
The University apologises for the errors and is committed to paying staff correctly as well as ensuring every staff member understands their role in achieving payroll compliance.
Some actions we are taking include simplifying processes and systems to make it easier for staff and their line managers to ensure accurate records; an improved induction and onboarding program for casual staff to ensure they are aware of the correct payment structures; and improved technology to remove the chances of human error.
We will also continue to provide additional training, support and education for managers and other staff, so they are equipped with the knowledge they need to understand and enact their staff payment responsibilities.
Want to know more?
Yes, you can contact our project team Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm EST on 1800 955 886 or +61 3 6226 6292.
Or email your request to email@example.com advising your name and the best number for us to call and a team member will contact you.
Your confidentiality, privacy and personal information are of utmost importance to us and we are committed to ensuring that they are appropriately protected.
Personal information provided to the University via the portal or contact line will be used to assess the individual’s back-pay claim. Further information about how the University generally collects and processes personal information can be found in our Staff Privacy Statement.