The Fair Work Ombudsman has confirmed it is investigating the Church of Scientology over claims it has underpaid staff members.
Several former employees of the church said on ABC's Lateline program that they has only been paid a few thousand dollars per year, and had to resort to welfare payments to survive.
Janette Lang, who worked for the church for seven years, said the most she was paid in a year was $3,114 in 2001, when she was second in charge of the Church of Scientology in Canberra.
"Trying to survive as a staff member was a constant battle," she said on Lateline.
The Church of Scientology it denied any widespread use of welfare by its staff members. Its written statement said:
‘We have previously passed inspections by the Workplace Ombudsman and we are not aware of any current breaches of the Fair Work Act or regulations.
All Church of Scientology staff are religious volunteers and they fully understand that the Church of Scientology operates for the sole purpose of assisting individuals to attain their true spiritual potential through the practice of the Scientology religion.
Ms Lang left Church staff over seven years ago now and we cannot comment on Ms Lang's personal lifestyle or choices. However, some of her former fellow Church staff attest to her having an adequate private income that she and her husband lived on when they knew her on staff.’