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CommBank has been fined $10 million for underpaying over 7,000 workers

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The Commonwealth Bank has been ordered to pay a $10 million fine for underpaying thousands of its staff.
commonwealth bank underpaid staff

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has been ordered to pay a $10 million fine for underpaying thousands of its workers.

Underpayments totalling over $16 million impacted some 7,400 workers between 2015 and 2021.

In a ruling handed down on Thursday, the Federal Court determined that Commonwealth Bank knowingly underpaid its workers, and failed to take action to resolve the issue.

All impacted workers have been compensated.

Fair Work

CBA notified Fair Work that it had identified underpayments (mostly affecting customer service staff) in 2018.

The bank launched a company-wide review to diagnose the extent of the issue.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) launched legal action against CBA in the Federal Court in 2021.

The Court handed down its judgement on Thursday, issuing CBA a $10.3 million fine — the highest-ever penalty secured by legal action brought by the FWO.

The ruling

Justice Robert Bromwich accused senior staff at CommBank and CommSec (a popular trading platform) of ignoring details that should’ve “sounded a warning” about underpayments.

The Federal Court also questioned the conduct of HR managers and concluded that CBA could have avoided the underpayments with proper compliance checks.

Bromwich said he hoped the ruling would act as an “ongoing warning” to other businesses.

Response

CommBank said it “acknowledges” the Federal Court decision, and that it has invested “substantial resources” in improving its systems and processes “to address the risk of underpayment”.

“These issues should never have happened and we again apologise to our people impacted by these past errors.”

It has 60 days to pay the fine.

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