One of Australia’s premier banking and financial service providers, Westpac Banking Corp announced on Friday that it will have to pay AUD$8 million or $5.5 million for underpaying employees. A total of 8,000 employees were subject to underpayment and this happened during their long-service leave entitlements, which the bank clarified was due to miscalculations.
The announcement from the country’s prominent lender comes amid a big uproar in the country against the scandal that exposed many elite business corporations who underpaid their employees including Coles Group, Wesfarmers Ltd, and Woolworths Group. The Australian Government has been quite vocal about the issue and said that it would take strict action against the companies engaging in such activities, which it termed as “wage theft.”
Westpac stated that due to these calculation errors, some employees were also overpaid, however, it won’t ask those employees to repay the overpaid amount. Alastair Welsh, West Pac Group Executive for Enterprise Services said,
As per a June 22 report by The New York Times, Woolworths Group had underpaid its staff by more than $270 million, though the company ensured that it was ready to rectify the payment shortfalls. Likewise, 9News reported a couple of weeks ago that Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) underpaid its staff by more than AUD$12 million. This shows that there has been a series of instances where big corporations underpaid their staff, and this leads to several questions being raised.
It is, therefore, more important to ascertain whether these instances are happening for the first time, or have they been perpetual. The federal government has stated that if executives are found involved in the scandal, there will be strict action taken against them, and they will be barred from becoming directors of any company.