Michael Hill International, the jewellery brand listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), says it will spend up to A$25 million (US$17.5 million) to compensate staff for historical underpayments. The move comes after a PriceWaterhouseCoopers review found that the company had misapplied a general retail industry award in employee payments over a period of six years.
The company says it has also begun a thorough review of all employee records, rostering practices and payments. It added that while the matter was being tackled with urgency, the issue could still take several months to sort out.
CEO Daniel Bracken said the company would contact all staff to apologise and outline a process to quickly pay those affected. “I’m committed to engaging with our team members transparently and with absolute integrity and fairness,” he said.
The company, which had 168 stores in Australia, 52 in New Zealand and 86 in Canada at the end of June, is in the midst of a complete revamp after a disastrous year in 2018. It exited the US market last year, and appointed a new COO for Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of this year. It announced that it had been able to stem a same-store sales decline in the three months to June 30 last.
Bracken commented, “Even though we are experiencing an extremely competitive retail environment, particularly in Australia, with intensive competitor clearance related activities and lower foot traffic, the company has continued to deliver improved sales momentum for the fourth quarter.”