Westpac Banking Corporation has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with the Fair Work Ombudsman and is back-paying thousands of employees a total of $6 million.
Westpac self-reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman in April 2020 that it had underpaid the long service leave entitlements of employees across Australia after identifying underpayments during an internal review.
Payroll system errors resulted in the bank failing to correctly take into account employees’ overtime work, average weekly hours, bonuses, commissions and sick leave when determining how much long service leave to accrue to employees.
In some instances, Westpac also placed some employees on the wrong long service leave plan and did not properly apply entitlements under the National Employment Standards.
Affected employees were located across all states and territories and worked in a variety of roles, ranging from bank tellers to managers and corporate staff.
The underpayments occurred across Westpac Banking Corporation’s portfolio of financial services brands, including Westpac Bank and St George Bank.
The underpayments occurred between 2014 and early 2021. Individual underpayments range from less than less than $1 to more than $75,000.
In total, Westpac is back-paying more than 6,400 current and former employees $6 million, which includes interest and superannuation.
Westpac has already back-paid the majority of employees and the EU requires the organisation to pay the remaining amounts owing to every affected employee, plus interest and superannuation, by 30 November 2021.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that an EU was an appropriate outcome as the bank had cooperated and demonstrated a strong commitment to rectifying underpayments.
“Under the Enforceable Undertaking, Westpac has committed to stringent measures to comply with the law and protect its workforce. This includes engaging, at its own cost, an expert auditing firm to check its workplace compliance each year for the next two years,” Ms Parker said.
“This matter serves as a warning to all large employers that if you don’t prioritise workplace compliance, you risk underpaying staff on a large scale. Any employers who need help meeting their lawful workplace obligations should contact us for free advice.”
Under the EU, Westpac will also make a $343,866.96 contrition payment to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund. The bank is also required to formally apologise to staff and publish social media and newspaper notices detailing its contraventions.