Casino giant Star Entertainment is the latest Australian company to admit to underpaying its staff with up to 2200 employees denied about $13 million over a six-year period.
The $3.4bn gambling empire – which runs casinos in Sydney, Brisbane and on the Gold Coast – on Monday said it had alerted regulators and unions after discovering it had underpaid thousands of staff back to 2016.
The discrepancy was found during a retrospective wage review of salaried team members that showed some staff were not “better off overall” as their salaries did not adequately cover overtime and penalty rates.
“We apologise to any team member impacted by the payment shortfall and we are committed to doing the right thing by acting transparently,” chief executive Matt Bekier said.
“Our priority is to address this issue and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
The Star plans to take a $13m hit in its upcoming financial results as it begins the process of repaying its staff, plus interest.
This is expected to increase the company’s first-half loss to between $73 million and $75 million, following another tough trading period blighted by the Delta and Omicron waves.
The Star saga is the latest in a line of underpayment scandals to crop up at major Australian employers over the past few years, including the Commonwealth Bank, Coles, Woolworths, Wesfarmers, Qantas, and the ABC.
The Star on Monday said it had informed the Fair Work Ombudsman and the United Workers Union, while also noting that the underpayments amounted to just 0.4 per cent of the $3.3 billion it had paid staff over this time.
The company’s share price initially dipped on Monday to a six-day low but has since recovered and was last up 0.3 per cent at $3.56.
The Star runs the casino at Pyrmont in Sydney’s Darling Harbour as well as the Star Grand on the Gold Coast and the Treasury in Brisbane, where it is currently building a new $3.6 billion venue at the nearby Queen’s Wharf precinct.
This is expected to open 2022, as is its fully-completed Dorsett hotel and apartments tower on the Gold Coast.
The company is also contending with an investigation by financial regulators amid money-laundering allegations.