After underpaying workers for five years, one of Australia's largest almond growers and processors has agreed to pay back more than $500,000. Brownport Almonds underpaid workers over a five-year period by not honoring penalty rates. Following a payroll audit, the company was found to have misclassified its workers under the Horticultural Award and paid them a flat rate when they were entitled to penalty rates, overtime and allowances.
Workers affected by the underpayment were employed on a full-time or casual basis to harvest almonds and operate farm machinery. The individual back payments ranged from $4 to $12,300, with the average back payment of $2,570.
According to Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth, the company readily entered into an agreement to back pay the affected employees and has already paid more than $438,000 to staff at an interest rate of 6.1 per cent.