Scientology Defiant over Ombudsman Pay Review

Article excerpt

THE industrial umpire has told the Church of Scientology to hire an external expert to review its work practices after an 18-month probe into whether church workers were paid properly.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigation was sparked by an ABC Television Four Corners program in March 2010, which raised allegations about the mistreatment and exploitation of some of the church's most loyal members.

Several allegations made by witnesses came outside the statutory time limit for consideration, so they could not be pursued, the ombudsman's final report released on Friday said.

Other allegations fell outside the ombudsman's jurisdiction and needed to be referred to other authorities, the report said.

The ombudsman called on the church to conduct a comprehensive audit to ensure all parts of the organisation complied with the Fair Work Act and to redress any cases where workers had been underpaid.

The church was directed to hire an external consultant to undertake an audit into whether its employees were underpaid and to rectify any shortfalls.

A draft report released by the ombudsman earlier this week found some workers were paid as little as $10 a week despite the church earning more than $17 million in 2009.

It also found the church had incorrectly classified as volunteers or voluntary workers, people who were entitled to be classified as employees. …