Payment Verification Program
Southern Cross University has undertaken a review of its payments made under the Enterprise Agreement in recent years.
This review has identified payments to employees that should have been either lower or higher than the amount received.
The period of review was 2016-2022, but where a Long Service Leave entitlement applied to that period, the review period dates back to the commencing date of the individual employee, in some cases more than two decades.
Southern Cross has now begun the process of remediating any underpayments identified.
The University will not be requesting the return of overpayments.
If you have any questions about this issue, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions below. Any other specific enquiries may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
The payment verification program was a careful review of payment types governed by the University’s Enterprise Agreement (salaries, wages, entitlements, rates etc) between 2016-2022. This included testing the accuracy of both payroll and non-payroll payment types. In effect, it was a verification process. The period of analysis spanned 2016- 2022, except for Long Service Leave (LSL). In some cases, LSL entitlements under review relate to a longer period.
The review found some instances of either overpayments or underpayments (or both) made to employees during the review period, relative to entitlements specified in the Enterprise Agreement.
The University has now begun the process of remediating all affected employees.
The University became aware, via media reporting, of some instances of mispayments at other Australian universities. The University determined to undertake a payment verification review to ensure an appropriate level of assurance was in place at our University – via appropriate systems, expertise and leadership – to ensure consistent application of our Enterprise Agreement across the University.
Southern Cross University initiated this review work of its own volition. There have been no complaints made to the University relating to underpayment or misapplication of entitlements.
The total liability identified by the review was $951,989 affecting 718 individuals. This represents:
- 0.09% of the University’s $1.015 billion total employee expenditure over the relevant 2016-2022 period;
- $135,999 annually.
All payment irregularities that were detected relate to casual employees. These fall into four categories as follows:
- Long Service Leave – liability due to 12 casual employees having accrued a long service leave entitlement over the requisite extended service period that was not paid out upon their cessation of employment with the University.
- Minimum Engagement – liability due to 432 casual professional employees having been paid for less than 3 hours work (per engagement) when the minimum applicable period of work permitted under the Enterprise Agreement was 3 hours.
- PhD and Unit Assessor Loading – liability due to 270 casual academic employees having been paid a lower rate of pay than was applicable for those employees holding either a PhD qualification or undertaking Unit Assessor duties (or both).
- Incremental Progression – liability due to 44 casual academic employees paid using a rate as per Schedule 1 not receiving an annual increase in their base salary rate as is prescribed within the Enterprise Agreement.
Please note some individuals fall into more than one category.
The University implemented a range of controls to address the areas identified through the review. These controls are in place and effective.
The controls consist of system-based data entry controls, reporting controls, exception reporting, fortnightly reviews and system checks.
There are also secondary controls in place to monitor the performance of the new controls to ensure they capture a range of scenarios that may occur over time.
Commencing 3 May 2023, the University initiated personalised contact with all affected employees via email from email@example.com and via hard copy letters distributed to each employee’s last known address.
Only affected employees have been contacted by the University.
For current Southern Cross University employees, if you did not receive personalised correspondence from the University to your Southern Cross University email address on 3 May you have not been assessed as impacted.
Former employees should monitor their postal address mailbox, personal email address, and mobile phone for relevant correspondence and/or contact the Payment Verification Program Support Team on 02 6620 3667 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current employees will be contacted with a personalised letter sent to their home address and an email to their scu.edu.au address.
Former employees will be contacted with a personalised letter sent to their last known home address, an email to their last known personal email address, progressing to an SMS and telephone call to their last known mobile number.
If you are a former employee and require your personal details updated, please email email@example.com for assistance.
Security questions to confirm identity will be required before any updates are made to enable payment.
All emails will be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not engage with any email sent from any other email address.
We have committed to repaying affected staff with interest and to do so in a fair and transparent way.
Remediation payments made to staff will be subject to interest at the rate of 7.1% per annum.
Where casual superannuation payments are payable, they will be paid at the current Superannuation Guarantee rate of 10.5%, with interest at a rate of 10% applied.
Affected staff should carefully review the personal correspondence they will receive from the University regarding disclosure of interest payments as taxable income in personal tax returns, as they will not appear in payment summaries received from the University.
The University is committed to remediating payments to all affected colleagues as soon as possible.
For affected current staff, the University will make a full remediation payment into the same bank account that ordinary pay is disbursed into on 12 May 2023.
The University has commenced a structured program of engagement to contact former staff with a view to confirming their current bank, tax and superannuation details. Upon receipt of this updated information, a full remediation payment will be made in the next cycle of fortnightly batches commencing May 2023. Former, affected staff are encouraged to contact 02 6620 3667 during business hours to update their details.
All concerns or enquiries can be emailed to email@example.com. A member of the University’s Human Resources department will review your email and be in contact as soon as applicable. We aim to initiate a response within one week.
The total remediation payment for each affected employee was determined by combining the following three payment amounts:
- Remediation: the amount owing based on the correct interpretation of the Southern Cross University 2016 and 2018 Enterprise Agreements in place at the time;
- Superannuation: the amount owing based on foregone superannuation payments made during the period where underpayments occurred; and
- Interest: applied in recognition of the fact that affected staff did not have access to these funds at the date at which they were owing.
Australian legislation around Superannuation Guarantee requires that employer superannuation payments are made to a complying superannuation fund. If you no longer have an account, you will need to set up a new one to receive the payment.
Alternatively, you can elect to use our default superannuation fund. If this option is chosen, we will email documents for you to complete to set up an account.