Camp Australia logo Photo: Supplied
National child care provider Camp Australia has been ordered to pay $2.6 million to staff that were underpaid for more than two years.
The Fair Work Ombudsman on Wednesday ordered the out-of-school hours care provider to pay the 3,251 current and former employees by the end of October.
An audit, which was conducted by Camp Australia itself, found a defect in the company's payroll system resulted in the workers being short-changed between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012.
The audit also revealed some staff had been overpaid first aid allowances.
Camp Australia chief executive officer Adam Pease said the pay error occurred when the Children's Services Award 2010 was introduced.
“We were acting on advice from three experts and believed we were interpreting the award correctly,” Mr Pease said.
Camp Australia operates in every mainland state and partners with schools to run before and after school care programs. It also runs school holiday programs.
The company has formally apologised to the underpaid staff, and will have its books from July 2012 to September 2013 checked by external auditors. They will also audit the company for the next two years.
In a letter to staff, Mr Pease said the company was sorry for the mistake.
“Camp Australia values the work you do, and we sincerely apologise for this error,” Mr Pease said.
“I would like to personally apologise for the error and advise we have worked hard to identify the cause, fix it, and ensure you are being paid correctly.”
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the company had been “proactive and cooperative” in fixing the problem.
“It's important for employers to get things right and ensure that they are meeting their obligations under workplace law and that employees are receiving their full entitlements,” she said.