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Enforceable Undertaking Imposed on School for Underpayment of Wages


A recent investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman (‘FWO’) resulted in an enforceable undertaking being imposed on St Peter’s Lutheran College (‘the College’).

The College had for many years treated Sports Coaches and Coordinators as volunteers and paid them a notional amount as an ex gratia payment or honorarium.

However, an internal review undertaken by the College identified that the “volunteers” were actually employees entitled to be paid in accordance with the relevant award and enterprise agreement. The College self-reported to the FWO resulting in the College being required to enter into an enforceable undertaking.

The College subsequently undertook a full audit and calculation of backpay based on either their enterprise agreement or the relevant award. The College has been required to pay over $2.5 million in underpayments, interest and superannuation. The underpayment involved almost 500 employees over 6 years and involved the underpayment of base rates, casual loadings, overtime and weekend penalties. The enforceable undertaking also requires the College to make a $20,000 contrition payment to the Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, provide the FWO with information about new compliance measures and engage an independent auditor to check compliance with industrial laws over the next few years.

This matter highlights that schools need to be mindful of how they engage people to perform work. It may be the case people who are involved with ancillary activities at a school and considered volunteers are actually employees entitled to all the applicable entitlements under the relevant industrial instrument. 

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Mapien has significant experience working with organisations of all sizes as they implement employment instrument compliance projects. In several cases, Mapien has also been approved by the FWO as an independent advisor to partner with organisations as they navigate the terms of their enforceable undertaking, including the audits that follow.

If you would like any further information on this matter or have any concerns about how individuals may be engaged by your school please do not hesitate to contact us at