Westpac signs enforceable undertaking for payroll errors

  • By Zilla Efrat

Westpac has entered into an enforceable undertaking (EU) with the Fair Work Ombudsman and is back-paying more than 6,400 current and former employees $6 million including interest and super for underpayments of long service leave entitlements.

The underpayments were reported by Westpac to the Fair Work Ombudsman in April 2020 after it identified them during an internal review.

Individual underpayments range from less than $1 to more than $75,000. They occurred between 2014 and early 2021 and affected employees across Australia and across Westpac’s portfolio of financial services brands, including Westpac Bank and St George Bank.

Those affected worked in a variety of roles, ranging from bank tellers to managers and corporate staff.

Payroll system errors resulted in Westpac failing to correctly consider 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.

Westpac has already back-paid most 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.

“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,” says Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

Under the EU, Westpac will also make a $343,866.96 contrition payment to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund. Westpac is also required to formally apologise to staff and publish social media and newspaper notices detailing its contraventions.