(Reuters) – Australia’s workplace watchdog said https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/2021-media-releases/october-2021/20211011-cba-litigation-media-release it has sued the country’s largest lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia and its brokerage arm for not paying more than 7,000 workers around A$16.4 million ($12 million) in entitlements.
The issues around unpaid entitlements date back to 2010 and were self-reported by CBA to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) in early 2019 with remediation almost complete, the bank said in a statement.
The case against CBA comes months after the country’s largest supermarket chain Woolworths Group was sued by the FWO https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/australian-watchdog-sues-woolworths-over-staff-underpayments-2021-06-18 for underpaying staff in a growing list https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-wages-factbox-idUSKBN20D0FM of companies caught up in underpayment scandals.
The FWO alleges that CBA failed to make sure its employees were not paid less than the overall minimum entitlements required and that the bank did not make top-up payments for any shortfall.
The FWO is seeking penalties of A$666,000 per serious breach and up to A$66,600 for non-serious breaches in the civil case against the bank.
CBA and its brokerage arm, CommSec, have since improved their systems and processes, the bank said.
The bank added it would continue to engage with the FWO to resolve the proceedings and that it does not believe further payments to affected employees are needed.
($1 = 1.3661 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Indranil Sarkar and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)