INTHEBLACK July 2020 - Page 39



F E AT U R E
// C L O C K I N G O N
With nearly 30 per cent
of the global workforce
predicted to be working
remotely multiple days
a week by 2021, there
will be added challenges
in ensuring employees
are paid correctly.
However, complexity
around awards and
enterprise agreements is
the greatest challenge in
keeping up-to-date with
how people work and
should be paid.
Australia’s Fair Work
Commission has made it
compulsory for employers
of staff on an annualised
salary agreement to keep
records of starting and
finishing times, and
unpaid breaks taken.
STORY HELEN HAWKES
BACK
TO THE
FUTURE
FOR
FAIR PAY
AS C O M PA N I E S S T R I V E T O A D D R E S S S TA F F
U N D E R PAY M E N T, T H E R E T U R N T O T H E H U M B L E
T I M E S H E E T C O U L D B E A N E AS Y S O L U T I O N , B U T
A R E T H E E M P L O Y E E S O F T H E D I G I TA L A G E H A P P Y
TO CLOCK ON AGAIN?
I
n workplaces of old, most employees were issued
with a timecard they inserted into a bundy clock,
which clocked them in and out of their shift.
Today, with companies from the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation to Woolworths Group
and Coles Group having been caught up in wage
underpayment claims, anecdotal evidence suggests
biometric clocks that feature a sensor or a facial
recognition system are on the way back for whitecollar workers, once most of us return to the office.
In fact, Coles Group is already having its managers
clock on and off, after discovering that staff were
owed A$20 million in overtime.
Even for employers who felt they were across
payroll issues, the need for more employees to work
from home during the pandemic has also introduced
fresh challenges in accurately monitoring hours.
Even clocking start and end times, as well as
unpaid breaks, may not reflect workers who log off to
complete a personal or family task, and then log back
on, says Rohan Geddes, partner, payroll consulting at
PwC Australia.
Geddes believes all employers need to have better
visibility over working times to enable employees to
be paid correctly. Simply put, he says businesses can
no longer treat payroll as “set and forget”.
SIGNIFICANT COMPLEXITIES CAUSE TROUBLE
While 54 per cent of Australians spent at least
some time working remotely before COVID-19,
Global Workplace Analytics predicts that
25-30 per cent of employees globally will be working
from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
Experts agree telecommuting will present additional
challenges in monitoring hours, but say it is significant
complexity around awards and enterprise agreements
that continues to present the most serious challenges
in keeping up-to-date with how people work and,
consequently, how they should be paid.
One small step towards rectifying this in Australia
came in March this year, when the Fair Work
Commission (FWC) made it compulsory for
employers of salaried staff subject to an annualised
salary arrangement under an award to keep a record
of starting and finishing times and unpaid breaks taken.
The move followed numerous underpayment
scandals that were referred to as “endemic” to corporate
Australia, and requiring “a full-court press” across
government policy, according to Attorney-General
Christian Porter.
In addition to increasing civil penalties for wage
underpayment ten-fold, the government is working
towards instituting a category of clear criminal offence
that deals with “the worst types of systemic, large,
knowledgeable underpayment by companies”.
Sou
44 ITB July 2020
intheblack.com July 2020 45

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