Law firm Gilbert + Tobin underpaid its graduates almost $300,000 over a six year period because “crushing work hours” dragged them below the minimum hourly rate, despite their graduate salaries being among the highest in the market, a report from the Australian Financial Review reports.
The firm said that around 50 graduates would be receiving backpayments to meet their payment obligations, ranging from $300 to more than $15,000 after they found $290,000 in underpayments from staff working long hours, nights and weekends.
The firm had previous made the news when it was revealed that SafeWork NSW was again investigating the firm after a complaint last year about workplace fatigue and hours.
In an email to staff , G+T Managing Partner Danny Gilbert said long hours were “a reality of life” for corporate lawyers as “we operate in a very demanding environment”.
He told the AFR the firm had had a “hard-working reputation for 32 years” and the complaint was by “some disaffected person”.
When asked about the law firm’s reputation among law students for overworking staff, Mr Gilbert said: “I don’t like it, but I’m open about the fact we’re hardworking here and I don’t think we’re any different to other firms at the top of the market.”
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