Employer and regulatory underinvestment in technology that automates correct pay conditions is leading to staff underpayment, an employment lawyer has told a Senate inquiry.\nAndrew Stirling, a former lawyer at Allens and now partner at Tanda PaySure, the wage compliance division of Australia-based company Tanda, has made six recommendations to the federal government in a written submission to the inquiry into unlawful underpayments.\nThe Australian government is consulting with employers on complexity around award rates over concerns about new timesheet rules for salaried staff that came into effect earlier this month.\nThe Fair Work Commssion\u2019s new annualised wage arrangement means employers in multiple award categories must create, and for 7 years, retain records for hours worked (and non-paid breaks) by salaried staff, and any extra pay for overtime.\nTwo key recommendations made by Stirling were for the federal government to fund the Fair Work Ombudsman\u2019s (FWO) investment in payroll calculation technology, and for the FWO website to pilot an accurate pay calculator that lets staff identify if they are being underpaid.\nStirling said politicians and regulators need to take their share of responsibility on the underpayment issue to assist employers who are trying to navigate a complicated industrial relations system but are struggling with the complexity of compliance.\nHe said many employers are not investing in payroll calculation technology and still use outdated manual processes or are using cheap foreign technology not adapted to comply with Australian workplace law.\n\u201cPractical and legislative support from the government would encourage uptake of technology that does comply, which would, in turn, reduce underpayments.\n\u201cEmploying more Fair Works inspectors isn\u2019t the answer. This may lead to a few more prosecutions each year. If we really want widespread, improved compliance outcomes there has to be a fundamental technological rethink,\u201d Stirling said.\nStirling called for funding for FWO to invest in payroll calculation technology. He said the FWO would use the technology for its own compliance activities and would also make it available to employees and employers so that they could work together to achieve better compliance.\n\u201cSophisticated payroll calculating technology is available on the market to manage award complexity. If the government encouraged the uptake of this technology by the FWO and by employers it would lead to better compliance and few instances of underpayment,\u201d he said in the submission.\nStirling also recommended that the FWO pilot the use of a true payroll calculator on its website to give users an accurate picture of gross wages payable under an award.\nHe said that last year, the FWO had more than 6 million calculations performed on its website \u2018pay calculator\u2019 which is the only publicly available way for employees to check their wages.\nThe difficulty with this tool, he said, is that it doesn\u2019t calculate pay at all. This means employes can\u2019t properly check their wages. It simply provides rates of pay based on award classification and age.\u00a0\nAt best, the information in the FWO\u2019s pay calculator might help an employee to identify that they are being paid the incorrect hourly rate. Armed with the correct hourly pay, the employee would still need to manually calculate their pay based on rules in the modern award to determine if they had been underpaid and to what extent, Stirling said.\nHe added that without a true payroll calculator, many employers don\u2019t know what to pay and employees don\u2019t know what they should be paid.\n\u201cA true payroll calculator, available to both employers and employees, is far more likely to lead to widespread compliance than simply giving the FWO more funding to undertake more of the same regulatory activities. More of the same is not enough. Australia needs to completely rethink how compliance can be achieved and monitored at scale,\u201d he said.