In 2013, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) received requests for assistance relating to the engagement of part-time workers at a JB Hi-Fi store, and the FWO found the retail company had underpaid nine employees more than $42,000.
Even though these matters were resolved by the company without the need for further action by the FWO, JB Hi-Fi acknowledged that its systems and processes for rostering and documenting the working hours of part-time employees needed improvement.
Consequently, in 2014, the company commenced discussions with the FWO with an aim to improve its compliance with Australian workplace laws and to enhance its brand as an employer of choice.
On 19 December 2014, JB Hi-Fi entered into a three-year compliance partnership with the FWO underpinned by a Proactive Compliance Deed (PCD) that contained a number of commitments from both parties.
It followed an FWO investigation the previous year that identified time-keeping problems had led to underpayments at a JB Hi-Fi store.
JB Hi-Fi conducted a self-audit involving a total of 337 employees from 22 stores across its network in the first year of the partnership.
The company identified and rectified underpayments totalling $1,397 for 15 workers, with individual underpayments ranging from $2.36 to $367.90.
JB Hi-Fi reported that the underpayments arose due to time-keeping errors and found no underpayments of hourly rates, penalty rates or loadings.
The partnership led to JB Hi-Fi enhancing its workplace training of managers and staff, and implementing a new online time and attendance system.
Moreover, the company appointed employee liaison officers, so that workers could raise issues directly with head office.
During the compliance partnership, the FWO did not receive any requests for assistance from JB Hi-Fi employees involving workplace disputes.
JB Hi-Fi also implemented measures to update its systems so that variations to agreed hours were efficiently documented and workers duly compensated.
The company has provided education and training to managers and staff to promote further awareness of workplace rights and obligations throughout its network of stores. It also appointed liaison officers to answer enquiries from its staff or ex-employees about their entitlements.
Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the partnership demonstrates the importance of businesses having robust systems in place.
“The measures JB Hi-Fi implemented under the partnership benefit all of its employees and reduce the risk of future workplace breaches occurring in its network,” said Parker.
“Workplace compliance should be a top priority for all businesses, and we have a range of resources available to help employers comply with their obligations.”