Taronga Zoo admits staff underpaid $2.6 MILLION and reveals how mistake was made
- Taronga, Western Plains Zoo underpaid staff
- New error in the payroll system, refund starts in July
The company behind two of Australia’s most iconic attractions has admitted that former and current temporary staff are underpaid due to a payroll mishap.
Workers at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo and Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo have been collectively underpaid by about $2.6 million, including six percent interest and 11 percent pension.
Compensation for affected staff will begin in July, following a ‘proactive review’ by the company of their new payroll system introduced in February 2021.
Casual maintenance workers were scammed after the new system misinterpreted relevant pay rates.
Temporary staff at both Sydney’s Taronga Zoo and Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo were paid incorrectly over a six-year period due to a faulty new payroll system (photo, Taronga Zoo staff)
Over a six-year period, the system had incorrectly concluded that temporary workers were not entitled to a 15 percent tax on weekdays, resulting in a “deficit in the calculation of the 1/12th allowance paid in lieu of annual leave ‘. .
Independent accountants investigate the size of the underpayments.
“Our people are the most important part of our organization and I deeply regret this mistake,” said Taronga CEO Cameron Kerr.
“I sincerely apologize to current and former employees who were affected.”
Mr Kerr said it was disappointing that the underpayments were not picked up sooner due to the Covid-19 disruptions and the introduction of the new payroll system.
“Taronga is committed to ongoing monitoring of our industry compensation and salary systems to prevent a recurrence,” he added.
Taronga Zoo has apologized to current and former staff who were affected. Pictured is the Taronga Zoo in Sydney
Underpayments, late payments and leave and allowance complications lasted 18 months before Taronga “self-identified” the issue, according to the Australian Workers Union.
This comes after a sudden strike was held at Taronga’s Western Plains Zoo last year, with temporary staff protesting underpayments and the loss of furlough rights due to the new pay system.
NSW Secretary of State Tony Callinan said 7News AWU members needed the stop-work meeting in Dubbo to meet disgruntled staff.
“It’s a bit rich of Taronga to come out today and claim that he himself is reporting an underpayment when the pay check would never have happened if AWU members hadn’t taken action.”
The zoo’s salary system will be corrected from July 13.
Staff are collectively underpaid by about $2.6 million at the two zoos, with back payments starting next month (pictured, Taronga Zoo in Sydney)