THE University of Newcastle will review its payments to all staff employed as casuals or covered by enterprise agreements over the past six years, after it underpaid 42 people by $64,000.
Vice-Chancellor Alex Zelinsky AO emailed all staff on Tuesday afternoon, advising UON had identified some "potential anomalies in the payments we make to our casual professional and casual teaching staff".
"This was initially brought to my attention in relation to penalty payments for casual staff working at our Conservatorium of Music in Newcastle," Professor Zelinsky wrote.
"I have established a project team to oversee a review of our pay obligations and determine any remediation steps.
"The review will cover the past six years.
"At this stage we believe the potential anomalies may affect some casual professional and casual teaching staff and primarily relate to the consistent application of penalty rates."
A UON spokesperson said the matter at the Conservatorium was identified after a new supervisor identified inconsistent application of penalty rates for some casual event staff.
Some were claiming penalty rates and some weren't.
The spokesperson said 42 current and former staff were affected, with total underpayment for the group equal to $64,000.
"The staff affected at the Conservatorium were all paid outstanding amounts in October last year and we apologised for the error," the spokesperson said.
"Steps were put into place to prevent a recurrence of the errors."
The spokesperson said the review would cover all casuals and enterprise agreement-covered staff employed over the past six years.
"The review itself will identify the number of people affected and the cause of any potential errors," the spokesperson said.
"We're doing the review as quickly and as thoroughly as possible and expect it to take a few months to complete."
Professor Zelinsky told staff anyone underpaid would be paid money owing - plus interest.
"I am absolutely committed to making sure we pay people correctly and have introduced this review as a priority," he wrote.
"If mistakes have been made in the past, we will fix these errors."
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Newcastle branch president Emma Joel said union representatives would continue to advocate for affected members to ensure management met their obligations.
"While NTEU representatives are satisfied with the university management advising us of the underpayment issue, and agrees a comprehensive audit to gauge the full extent and reach of the alleged underpayments is essential, it is disappointing that casual staff potentially bare further financial risks associated with their insecure employment," Dr Joel said.
"Sadly these instances are representative of wider industrial problems plaguing Australian workers across all industries, job insecurity and underpayments don't discriminate on the basis of occupation."
UON previously conducted a review from July to November 2018 into superannuation anomalies dating back to July 1, 2009.
The review identified 6316 people were affected.
UON spent about $13.37 million on remediation costs.
The review found some staff had received incorrect contributions as a result of the incorrect interpretation and application of rules, as well as technical and system configuration errors.
The spokesperson said the current review was a "separate matter to the superannuation review".