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$35m paid out in payroll errors

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/09/2016

© Getty Images The police and the Ministry of Business and Innovation are among the dozens of organisations that have paid back 26,000 workers nearly $35 million they were owed after being short-changed due to holiday pay-related blunders.

But some of New Zealand's biggest companies and several government departments are still being investigated for possible payroll issues, according to Labour Inspectorate documents released by the Council of Trade Unions.

Investigations carried out by MBIE earlier this year found tens of thousands of employees had been underpaid due to problems calculating holiday pay in the Holidays Act by payroll providers and software.

The CTU on Friday published an inspectorate list of 25 companies that had been found to have short-changed staff, which included the police, MBIE and several large private businesses such as Compass and Bunnings.

Those companies have paid about 26,000 workers back between $55 and $1800 each, totalling about $35m.

They had all been issued compliance notes or entered into deals to fix the problems, and several had already voluntarily resolved the issues in their systems, according the document released to the union under the Official Information Act.

But the inspectorate also provided a list of 34 companies that were also still under investigation.

They include the likes of NZ Post, Fairfax, Fonterra, The Warehouse, Auckland Council, ANZ, the Department of Conservation, Downer, Landcorp, the Ministry of Social Development and the University of Otago.

Inspectorate general manager George Mason said the breaches did not mean companies had intentionally short-changed staff, but rather could have just been IT faults.

CTU President Richard Wagstaff said they union believed the current payouts were just the tip of the iceberg.

"The government agency who is responsible for making sure employers stick to the law, simply doesn't have the resourcing to identify all of the working people who haven't been paid what they are due," he said.

"How much money is owed to these working people is unknown but it seems likely to be tens of millions. But how big is the problem? We believe that the problem is far bigger."

Experts have also agreed that up to two million Kiwis could have been underpaid.

Those most likely to be affected are workers with varying hours from week to week, or receive additional pay on top of their normal wages, such as shift allowances.

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