Natasha Bartholomeusz with a Thales Hawkei, Natasha designed a component for the vehicle.

DEFENCE manufacturer Thales has back-paid workers more than $7 million in wages, superannuation and interest after entering into a court-enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Fair Work inspectors investigated Thales Australia after the company self-disclosed that it had paid annual salaries below what employees were entitled to under the applicable enterprise agreements.

This error led to Thales underpaying basic employee entitlements, including minimum wages, overtime, annual leave entitlements and superannuations, and resulted in record-keeping breaches.

Thales operates a facility in North Bendigo, with it unclear how many of its local workforce are impacted.

Affected employees have been back-paid amounts ranging from $2593 to $158,978.

A total of 407 current and former employees were underpaid between 2011 and 2018.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that the regulator wanted to send a message.

“This outcome sends a strong message to employers that if you don’t prioritise workplace compliance, you risk underpaying staff on a large scale and facing a massive back-payment bill,” Ms Parker said.

Thales has admitted to breaching workplace laws.

In addition to back-paying staff, it will make a gesture of contrition through a $200,000 payment to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Thales could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Nicholas Nakos