A childcare chain that ripped off thousands of daycare workers will back-pay them $1.6 million in overtime. 
A childcare chain that ripped off thousands of daycare workers will back-pay them $1.6 million in overtime. 

Childcare chain to pay workers back $1.6 million

A childcare chain that ripped off thousands of daycare workers will back-pay them $1.6 million in overtime. 

Only About Children - which runs 75 daycare centres in NSW, Victoria and Queensland - has signed a legally-binding "enforceable undertaking'' with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) after self-reporting the underpayments to casual and part-time workers between 2013 and 2019. 

It has agreed to pay back $1.59 million in wages, interest and superannuation to 2144 workers, with payments ranging from $5 to $13,000.

The FWO said the privately owned company had already back-paid more than 1700 workers and was trying to locate the rest, who will share in $82,000.

The Only About Children childcare centre in Barangaroo, Sydney.
The Only About Children childcare centre in Barangaroo, Sydney.

The company has also been fined $45,000, to be paid to the Federal Government.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said Only About Children had co-operated with the FWO and "demonstrated a strong commitment to rectifying all underpayments''.

"This matter demonstrates how important it is for employers to place a high priority on ensuring they are aware of every lawful entitlement they must pay their employees,'' she said.

"The underpayment of just a single entitlement over time, can result in a large-scale back-payment bill.''

Only About Children has also agreed to pay for an expert auditing firm to check its compliance with workplace laws for the next two years.

The FWO said the company had notified it of the breaches in February, and apologised to employees.

In a letter to be sent to current and former staff, the childcare operator says it will set up a hotline for information.

"OAC expresses its sincere regret and apologises to you for failing to comply with our lawful obligations and is committed to ensuring that compliance with the law is upheld,'' the letter states.

The FWO said the childcare operator discovered the underpayments when it upgraded its payroll system in December 2019.

"The company mistakenly calculated overtime entitlements on only a weekly basis, which resulted in it failing to pay part-time and casual employees who worked more than eight hours in a single day the overtime rates they were entitled to,'' the FWO said.

In a statement today, Only About Children said it apologised for the "genuine error''.

"We express our regret and apologise for the underpayments,'' it said.

"It was a genuine error, and we sincerely apologise to all current and former employees who have been affected.

Our employees are critical to the success of Only About Children and its families.

"We are fully committed to all compliance measures and corrective actions agreed with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure this does not happen again.''

Originally published as Childcare chain to pay workers back $1.6 million


Your team of journalists passionate about local news

Premium Content Your team of journalists passionate about local news

Meet your team of local journalists living and working here

Wollongbar house will be turned into a life-saving facility

Premium Content Wollongbar house will be turned into a life-saving facility

Little house to become heart of important project

Adults only: Magician set to reveal secrets at Lismore show

Premium Content Adults only: Magician set to reveal secrets at Lismore show

After wowing Ellen, he’s bringing his show to the Northern Rivers