HALF the staff at Cairns Airport will receive back pay after the organisation made an error and self-reported.

And a further 80 staff employed as far back as 2012 will also get paid what they are owed - plus interest.

Asked how much was owed, North Queensland Airport chief executive Richard Barker said "it's in the hundreds of thousands".

North Queensland Airports chief executive Richard Baker apologised for payroll errors and said staff would receive payment corrections. Picture: Stewart McLean.
North Queensland Airports chief executive Richard Baker apologised for payroll errors and said staff would receive payment corrections. Picture: Stewart McLean.

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"There was a misinterpretation of the enterprise bargaining agreement," he said.

"We thought, and so did (employees), that if their salary was higher than the minimum that it covered off all the allowances. We got the wording wrong.

"There's a range of allowances people should have been paid for and our intention is to fix all of that."

He said as other public and private companies identified similar issues, the board decided to investigate its own situation.

"We said 'we need to go back and check' and our human relations team looked at it," Mr Barker said.

"There were things like the district allowance for being outside a capital city, things we thought were covered by a salary."

The company self-disclosed the errors in its payroll to the Fair Work Ombudsman, with the self-initiated payroll review involving a full audit ­verified by external accountants and employment law experts.

Former employees affected by the payment errors are being contacted.

"We deeply regret and apologise for these errors and have moved swiftly and decisively," Mr Barker said.

"I care about what has happened here because our employees are the backbone of our airports (at Cairns and Mackay)," he said.

"They are without a doubt our biggest assets and have weathered the storm of our industry's challenges over the past 13 months with incredible tenacity and commitment."

Anyone seeking further information can contact hr@cairnsairport.com.au or call 0401 772 463.

Originally published as Qld international airport underpaid half its workforce


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