NSW disability group back-pays employees $370k
The Fair Work Ombudsman found Challenge Community Services placed the workers on pro-rata rates based on skills assessments after it classified them as having a disability even though they were not eligible for Commonwealth pensions.
The largest individual underpayment was of $63,000 to a worker in his 50s who received as little as $8.82 an hour.
The employees were aged between 17 and 64 when they were short-changed on wages and superannuation over six years.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully said on Friday the non-profit had paid back $371,876.
It fully co-operated with the audit and entered into an enforceable undertaking with the watchdog to ensure no future mistakes are made.
"This matter serves as a good reminder to operators in this sector to ensure they are complying with workplace laws," Mr Scully said in a statement.
"(It) highlights the accountability and responsibility required of employers engaged with vulnerable workers such as those with a disability."
Challenge Community Services, which was formed 60 years ago, is one of the largest disability service organisations in NSW and supports more than 2500 people.
The organisation said it discovered the "inadvertent" and incorrect classifications after another employee asked for a wage review in early 2016.
The 18 staff members previously received a pension but it was removed after a government review, and neither the government nor employees had an obligation to notify Challenge of the change.
"Challenge reviewed all of its employees and is confident there are no other discrepancies and all staff are correctly classified," a spokeswoman said in a statement.
The organisation also noted a number of the employees receive NDIS funding.