Sunglass Hut to back-pay 620 workers

Sunglass Hut will back-pay $2.3 million to employees after breaching Australia’s workplace laws and underpaying 620 staff at stores across the country.

Luxottica Retail Australia Pty Ltd, trading as Sunglass Hut, has entered into a Court-Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman after self-disclosing that it underpaid 620 current and former employees.

Between 2010 and 2016, Sunglass Hut failed to agree in writing with its part-time workers on a regular pattern of working hours and days, in breach of the General Retail Industry Award. The company therefore failed to pay overtime rates for work performed outside regular hours.

As a result, Sunglass Hut underpaid workers a total of $2,294,496 in overtime wages, with individual underpayments ranging from $4 up to $42,912.

To date, Sunglass Hut has back-paid $1,483,888 to 452 staff, and must back-pay the outstanding $817,093 in unpaid overtime wages.

The affected workers were part-time retail staff who served customers in-store. Underpayments occurred at 253 Sunglass Hut stores across every state and territory.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that a Court-Enforceable Undertaking was appropriate as the company had committed to overhauling workplace practices and rectifying all underpayments.

“Sunglass Hut breached workplace laws and their conduct falls short of lawful obligations to their employees, and community expectations,” Ms Parker said.

“This matter highlights that if employers incorrectly apply award conditions, it can have extensive and expensive consequences across the business for years to come.”

“This outcome should also serve as a warning to all businesses that they need to actively check that they are paying their staff correctly,” Ms Parker said.

Sunglass Hut must fund external auditors to check pay and conditions for workers every year until the EU expires in 2022. The audits will cover part-time, full-time and casual workers and any underpayments must be rectified.

Luxottica Retail Australia Pty Ltd must also issue a letter of apology to each of the affected workers.

The company has admitted that it breached workplace laws. In addition to back-paying staff, Sunglass Hut will make a gesture of contrition through a $50,000 payment to the National Association of Community Legal Centres.

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