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The company behind two of Australia’s most iconic zoos has admitted to underpaying current and former staff members by millions of dollars.
Casual workers at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo were underpaid by about $2.6 million over a six year period.

The company admitted to the historical underpayments, saying it would start reimbursing affected staff – including six per cent interest and 11 per cent superannuation – next month.

Crowds return to Taronga Zoo
Casual workers at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo were underpaid by about $2.6 million. (Supplied)

Taronga said it had self-identified the issue when it reviewed its award interpretations and how they applied to a new payroll system.

“Our people are the most important part of our organisation, and I am deeply sorry that this error has occurred. I offer my sincere apologies to those current and former staff who have been impacted,” Taronga chief executive Cameron Kerr said.

“Ideally, we would have picked up the issue of underpayments earlier but disappointingly, amid the disruptions of COVID-19 and managing the introduction and embedding of the new payroll system, the shortfalls were missed.

“We take this matter very seriously, and we are in the process of notifying all those who have been affected.

“Taronga is committed to ongoing monitoring of our industrial Awards and payroll systems to prevent a reoccurrence.”

Puggle in cooler bag
Taronga said it had self-identified the issue. (Harrison Vincent/Taronga Zoo)

Taronga said some casual staff were not paid 15 per cent casual loading for work performed on weekdays over a six-year period, an issue that also resulted in a “shortfall on the calculation of the 1/12th allowance which is paid in lieu of annual leave”.

An error in setting up a new payroll system also saw that allowance miscalculated for another group of casual employees.

The company has called on independent auditors to investigate the extent of the underpayments.

“We are committed to informing our people of the pay shortfall and remedying this quickly,” it said.

Werribee Open Range Zoo has welcomed a healthy litter of three precious lion cubs – the first of this threatened speciesto be born at the Zoo in almost six years.

Zoo celebrates arrival of first lion cubs in almost six years

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