University of Newcastle investigating superannuation underpayments

Vice Chancellor Caroline McMillen

Vice Chancellor Caroline McMillen

The University of Newcastle is investigating the potential underpayment of millions of dollars in superannuation to an unknown number of staff as a result of failures in its payroll system.

Vice-Chancellor Caroline McMillen said the underpayments had been uncovered as part of its internal processes. 

“I wanted to let you know that, following findings by other universities and our own internal processes, we have identified some potential anomalies in the superannuation contributions we pay on behalf of some current and some former staff,” Professor McMillen wrote in an email to staff on Thursday.

The university was unable to confirm how many staff had been affected, how much they were owed or over what time period the underpayments had occurred.

The revelation follows the underpayment of millions of dollars worth of superannuation payments at the University of Wollongong and Swinburn University.

The National Tertiary Education Union’s Newcastle branch said it was pleased the university was taking steps to correct superannuation shortfalls. 

“The NTEU supports staff being remunerated fairly and correctly, and fully compensated where this has not occurred,” a statement said.

Professor McMillan said superannuation in the tertiary education sector was complex because of the interaction of the Superannuation Guarantee, enterprise agreement and UniSuper contribution obligations.

“We have enlisted the expertise of professional services firm Deloitte to undertake a comprehensive review to assess our obligations and identify any anomalies,” she said.

“Our priority is to meet our superannuation commitments. If any superannuation underpayments have been made, affected staff will have their superannuation owing paid, with interest.”

The review is expected to be complete by the end of the year. 

The University of Wollongong revealed in April 2017 that it would repay $10 million in unpaid entitlements, interest owed and potential penalties after discovering longstanding failures in its payroll system.

It said the failures affected thousands of current and former employees dating back to 2009.

The superannuation was repaid without cuts to jobs, teaching and research activities.