Activ underpays WA disabled workers $13.6m

Disability services provider Activ Foundation is back-paying employees in Western Australia $13.6 million after short-changing almost 1700 current and former workers over six years.

They were all people with a disability and worked in diverse roles including manufacturing, property maintenance, landscaping and product packaging.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said on Friday that Activ had self-disclosed the breaches, entered into a court-enforceable undertaking to pay back the money and had already handed over $12.7 million, with the remainder due within 90 days.

Ms Parker said the undertaking committed Activ to stringent measures to protect employees, including funding three external audits over the next three years and setting up a clear process for pay rate disputes.

"This matter serves as a warning to all organisations that if you don't prioritise workplace compliance, you risk underpaying staff on a large scale and face a massive back-payment bill," she said.

Activ blamed the underpayments, which occurred between 2011 and 2017, on an oversight in the wage rates assessment process and rostering errors.

"We have put measures in place internally to prevent similar mistakes in future, and to ensure that all Activ employees are paid correctly," the organisation said.

"Activ has apologised to all its supported employees and their families for these mistakes.

"We wish to take this opportunity to apologise again."