Many members recently discovered inconsistencies between the total yearly earnings figure on their final pay sheet and that on their Group Certificate. The Union immediately advised members not to submit their Taxation Returns before the Department was able to explain exactly what had gone wrong. Put simply, if insufficient taxation was deducted, members would be liable for a potentially hefty debt to the Australian Taxation Office.
Following Union protests, the Commissioner issued an internal message to all staff explaining that the backpay from the last Award negotiations was not included in the pay sheets’ year to date figure, but was included on the Group Certificates. The Commissioner seemed to think this was OK.
From the outset, the Union knew that one of three things had happened:
the figure(s) on the pay sheets were wrong, but the Group Certificates were correct, or
the figures on the Group Certificates were wrong, but the pay sheets were correct, or
the figures on both the pay sheets and the Group Certificates were wrong.
Whilst it ended up being problem no. 1 (ie pay sheets wrong, Group Certificates correct), the fact remains that none of the above are satisfactory. In view of the significant difficulties experienced by members with the Stargarden pay system to date, this latest episode is hardly likely to increase members’ confidence that what is on their pay sheet is what they have been paid. It isn’t a big ask, is it? The NSW Industrial Relations Commission doesn’t think so, and neither do your elected officials. The Union may yet have the Department hauled back before the IRC over this latest debacle, being another sad chapter in the ongoing Stargarden farce.
Yesterday, July 29 the Commissioner wrote to every employee to “guarantee” that the figures on the Group Certificates, both total earnings and tax deducted, are correct. The Union believes that members may now be confident their Group Certificates (but not pay sheets) are correct. Why though, when it was clear the Department knew of this problem for several weeks beforehand, did the Commissioner have to wait until the Union complained before an explanation was given to all employees? And an apology? Now that is expecting too much!