Maitland-Newcastle Diocese members grapple with pay chaos

The experience of some Maitland-Newcastle Diocese members are best captured in the following excerpts from emails:

“We have 17 people with incorrect pay, seven received no pay at all.”

“Our school has forwarded the commencement notices, but we are being blamed for not providing them.”

“My only income is from casual teaching and I have no pay.”

“We repeatedly phoned, to no avail.”

“My bank is pressing me for payment.”

“$50 may not sound like much but it is for me.”

“I can’t mark the rolls or get emails as I have not been assigned to the correct school.”

“The amount of time this is taking up in our school is most frustrating.”

The Shared Services model developed to manage some 3500 school employees and approximately 400 employees in other Catholic services in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese has struggled to provide what is reasonably expected – being paid correctly as per the industrial agreement.

No pay system is glitch free but the number (the Union was authorised to advance close to 100 pay concerns) of members who were underpaid, overpaid, paid incorrectly or not paid at all is not acceptable.

The NSW and ACT Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement 2017 provides clarity in subclause 18.2. In the event of overpayments and underpayments, the employer is to notify the employee in writing of the basis of each such error.

Importantly, in the case of overpayments, the employer and employee are required to reach agreement on repayment arrangements. This process does not appear to have been followed to date and consequently members remain uncertain if their pays are indeed accurate.

What has the Union sought?

That the Union be provided with a clear written account of the steps taken to correct the pay errors that have been raised with the CSO on behalf of the members in the attached summary, setting out:

  • the amounts initially paid
  • the amounts of any adjustments
  • the dates on which such adjustments were paid to the employee, and
  • a reconciliation of these adjustment calculations with the employee’s entitlements under the EA
  • that the Union be given a clear undertaking as to the date by which these matters will be resolved and members can expect the integrity of the payroll function to be fully restored
  • that the CSO move to immediately ensure compliance with subclause 18.2 of the EA in relation to underpayments and overpayments, and to immediately cease withholding monies from employees unless there exists informed consent, and
  • that the CSO establish a mechanism by which members can request a review of their fortnightly pays, and receive clear and competent advice as to how their entitlements under the EA have been met.

The Union is anticipating a formal meeting with the diocese to reach satisfactory understandings. Correspondence from the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese has indicated that “employees should receive accurate and prompt payment”. Should pay processes continue to be awry, the Union will seek the assistance of the Fair Work Commission.

Members still experiencing ongoing unresolved pay issues should contact the IEU’s Newcastle office 4926 9400.

Mark Northam
Assistant Secretary