ROCKY Burnell was “gobsmacked” to learn his superannuation had not been paid by his employer for almost six years.
Burnell, who’s managed the Bottlemart bottle shop connected to Walsh’s Hotel in Queanbeyan for 19 years, said he had been unpaid about $10,000.
“I was shocked,” Burnell said.
The discovery came when a former colleague, who has since left Walsh’s Hotel, tried to access her super during the coronavirus pandemic via the federal government’s early access super scheme, and was told there was nothing in her account.
They weren’t the only ones.
“CityNews” understands up to a dozen Walsh’s Hotel employees had not been paid super contributions for up to six years, amounting to an estimated $150,000.
“I got a letter from my super guys saying you’re going to lose interest if you don’t put any more money in and I just disregarded it, but my colleague who got the same letter went to management and that’s when we discovered we were not being paid,” Burnell said.
Burnell has since been paid the $10,000 owing to him. All other staff missing super payments have also been reimbursed.
Burnell bears no grudge against the current management of Walsh’s.
“The pub has started fresh, we just have to move forward, this is a great pub, it’s been a real kick in the guts but we have to move forward,” he said.
It’s a sentiment shared by Brendon Sharp, who’s worked behind Walsh’s bar for six years.
Sharp discovered he had been unpaid between $8000 and $10,000 in super despite, he claims, his payslip indicating the payments were made.
“It was a big shock to me,” said Sharp.
“But the super has all been fixed up now, the pub has paid all that now, which is great.
“I wasn’t happy, but it wasn’t just us [staff] it was the patrons, too.”
On top of the super shortfall, “CityNews” has been told there was around $20,000 in funds adrift from the hotel’s popular punters’ club.
“There was a lot going on with the syndicates as well but everything has been sorted out,” said Sharp.
“They [the current owners] have been smacked in the face, too; they didn’t realise what was going on. It wasn’t really nice for them, it’s very disappointing.”
The payment issues, which unfolded in March when the pub shut at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, was as much of a shock to Walsh’s Hotel part-owner Michael Bagley than anyone.
“There was some super that went missing and some other stuff, everything has been paid back, all the super has been paid back to the staff at a higher rate,” Bagley said.
Bagley, who runs the pub’s popular restaurant Michael’s bought into the pub last year. His co-owners include Steve Bartlett and John McRedmond.
“It was eight years of paperwork we had to go over, everything has been paid back, which is good and we are moving forward.”
He wouldn’t be drawn on public speculation on the cause of the superannuation and punters’ club shortfalls other than to say the police have not been involved.
“CityNews” believes neither the board nor the current management were aware of the circumstances surrounding the missed payments.
“It’s been stressful for all of us, especially everything that just unfolded and was uncovered.
“The pub has honoured them [punters] all their money and everything has been paid back and everyone is happy,” said Bagley.
“Things happen for a reason and we are better for it now.”
Walsh’s Hotel was the first pub in Queanbeyan, opening as the Globe Hotel in 1885.