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Private school to pay back millions owed to sports staff

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A Brisbane private school is set to pay back nearly $2.5 million it short-changed sports staff over eight years.

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St Peter’s Lutheran College engaged coaches and sports coordinators as volunteers while paying them lump sums of money in recognition of their time and expertise, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) said on Monday.

The school self-reported to the FWO in November last year after receiving legal advice that these were “employment relationships”.

A total of 753 current and former employees who were underpaid between July 2012 and December 2020 will receive $2,460,519.59, including interest and superannuation.

St Peter’s has already apologised and back-paid more than $1.9m to 631 of those workers.
It has also taken steps to rectify underpayments for the remaining 122 employees.

An enforceable undertaking the college entered into with the ombudsman requires them to be paid within 30 days.

Individual underpayments – excluding interest and superannuation – range from less than $3 to more than $37,000, while more than 98 per cent relate to staff at St Peter’s Indooroopilly campus.

The school also has a campus at Springfield, southwest of Brisbane.

Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the matter demonstrated the importance of employers correctly defining how they engage workers and ensuring they get appropriate advice early.

“Any employer who needs assistance meeting their obligations should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for advice,” Ms Parker added.

The college is required to publish a notice on its website about the undertaking and to make a $20,000 contrition payment to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

-AAP

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