Victoria’s new employment watchdog has filed charges against the lender in the Magistrates’ Court
National Australia Bank is facing criminal charges for failing to pay long-service leave entitlements to casual employees.
The failure is an alleged violation of Victorian state laws that require private companies to pay full leave entitlements to non-permanent staff, according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Victorian government’s new employment regulator, the Wage Inspectorate, filed criminal charges against NAB in the Magistrates’ Court on Oct. 8. The regulator alleges that the bank broke the law by failing to pay long-service leave entitlements to former staff members on casual contracts.
The total unpaid amount is estimated to be about $30,000, according to the Herald.
Victoria’s Long Service Leave Act of 2018 states that all employees who have worked continuously for one employer for at least seven years are entitled to long-service leave entitlements. That applies to full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal and fixed-term employees.
“It is alleged the company failed to pay former employees their long-service leave entitlements when their employment ended, despite them completing at least seven years’ service,” a spokesman for the Wage Inspectorate said. “The Wage Inspectorate will make no further comment while the matter is before court.”
Susan Ferrier, NAB group executive for people and culture, said casual workers at NAB don’t receive long-service leave under enterprise agreements that have been in place for two decades, the Herald reported.
“We take paying our colleagues their entitlements very seriously,” Ferrier said. “NAB takes this issue very seriously and we are carefully considering the allegations made by the Wage Inspectorate Victoria in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria proceeding.”
NAB filed a counterclaim in the Federal court Oct. 12, with the first hearing scheduled for Friday, the Herald reported. Ferrier said that NAB believes casual workers aren’t covered by state laws for long-service leave.
Employment law specialist David Thompson, managing director for Hunt and Hunt, told the Herald that NAB may have difficulty defending the case because the law entitles casuals to long-service leave.
“The situation was unclear until 2006 when the Victorian Long Service Leave Act was altered to include an entitlement for all casuals employed on a regular and systemic basis to be paid entitlements,” Thompson said. “There can be some dispute as to what that means, but certainly the case authorities on that show that it doesn’t have to be particularly regular.”
Thompson said the definition of “regular and ongoing” was broad, and could include employees who work a few days per week every few weeks.
“But I imagine most casuals with a bank would be employed on a pretty systematic basis, working every Monday and Wednesday, for example,” he said.