The Commonwealth Bank has rejected claims it has underpaid thousands of its staff by $45 million over lost tea breaks.
The Finance Sector Union (FSU) claims it has identified an estimated $45 million underpayment at the CBA due to retail banking staff not being allowed to take 10-minute tea breaks during shifts.
But a CBA spokesman said the bank had not seen any evidence to support the union’s claim. He maintained staff were still paid for the tea break if they were unable take one.
FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano said retail bank workers were entitled to one paid 10-minute tea break after working three hours and a second paid tea break after five hours in addition to an unpaid lunch break.
“Our members working in bank branches are entitled to these tea breaks but most never take them because of under-staffing,” Ms Angrisano said.
“Our estimate is that the 3000 bank staff entitled to tea breaks are collectively owed $45 million dollars because the bank hasn’t bothered to honour its 2016 enterprise agreement.”
The FSU has estimated that on average, each affected bank worker is entitled to $15,000 in back pay.
But a CBA spokesman said the underpayment claims had been investigated by the bank and were unfounded.
“This is an ambit claim and we haven’t seen any evidence to support it. If someone makes a legitimate claim we’ll investigate it,” he said.
The spokesman said that staff who were unable to take a tea break at busy times were still paid for it.
Numerous Australian companies in the past year have reported they were not paying workers in compliance with Australia’s complex labour laws, including Wesfarmers, Super Retail Group, Michael Hill Jewellers and the ABC.