Commonwealth Bank hit with 23 criminal charges for not paying leave

Two key businesses of the Commonwealth Bank – Australia’s largest financial institution – have been charged with 23 criminal offences for allegedly failing to pay long service leave to some of its Victorian staff.

The charges, which were filed in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in recent days and could result in hefty financial penalties and convictions, come after an investigation by Wage Inspectorate Victoria, the state’s industrial relations regulator.

Commonwealth Bank entities have been hit with 23 criminal charges in Victoria.Credit:Bloomberg

The inspectorate alleges that Commonwealth Bank’s online broker, CommSec, and its BankWest business failed to pay more than $70,000 in long service leave to 20 former Victorian employees once they left their jobs.

There are also criminal charges for failing to comply with a request to produce documents to the state regulator.

It is the latest in a number of legal cases brought against the Commonwealth Bank – which last week reported a $9.6 billion full-year profit – for failing to pay workers correctly.

In another similar case involving Coles, the inspectorate originally laid charges over unpaid long service leave to a sample of 24 workers. Coles eventually had to back-pay more than $700,000 to more than 4000 staff as the investigation expanded.

The charges against the Commonwealth Bank businesses are similarly based on a sample done by the inspectorate with a mention hearing scheduled for October 10 in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

The maximum penalty that can be imposed by the Magistrates’ Court is $10,904 a day for each day the long service leave was not paid, which could potentially result in millions of dollars. The companies can also receive criminal convictions.

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