BoQ under fire over 750 underpaid workers

THE Financial Sector Union of Australia says 750 Bank of Queensland workers have been underpaid and deserve to have backpay credited to them as soon as possible.

"We have been urging all the banks to review and audit their payrolls and we are not surprised that another bank has been underpaying workers," said National Secretary Julia Angrisano.

Ms Angrisano said the latest underpayments came after the Bank of Queensland failed to pay workers their correct base rates, overtime, penalty rates and full superannuation entitlements.

"The Bank of Queensland should have taken steps long before this to make sure they were paying staff properly," she said.

"While we are prepared to work with our members and the bank to make sure all underpayments are made good, it is not acceptable that staff are being forced to wait until March 2021 to have their correct pay reinstated."

"This is wage theft and we are calling on the Bank of Queensland to accelerate the repayment program to pay affected employees immediately."

Bank of Queensland on Tuesday warned revelations of staff underpayments in combination with the financial dents sparked by the coronavirus pandemic has cost it millions.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, the regional bank said it had provisioned for a $175 million loan impairment expense that would bruise its profit for the 2020 financial year.

BOQ is expected to deliver its results on October 14, with $133 million of the expense relating to costs associated with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

BOQ is expected to deliver its results on October 14. Picture: Claudia Baxter/ AAP
BOQ is expected to deliver its results on October 14. Picture: Claudia Baxter/ AAP

A further $11 million relates to staff remuneration underpayments and issues with the bank not paying enough superannuation to employees.

The bank's anticipated losses are being driven by a higher unemployment rate, downgrades in property prices and a prolonged economic downturn.

BOQ chief executive George Frazis said the bank was committed to continue supporting customers despite multimillion-dollar losses incurred to its portfolio.

"As we all know, this has been an unprecedented year, and BOQ is committed to supporting our customers throughout this period," he said.

"We are very pleased to see many of our customers returning to work and reopening their businesses and will continue to work closely with those that require further assistance."

The bank flagged underpayments related to people employed under three of its enterprise agreements from 2010 to 2018.

Bank of Queensland CEO George Frazis says the bank will continue to support customers. Picture: Ryan Osland/The Australian
Bank of Queensland CEO George Frazis says the bank will continue to support customers. Picture: Ryan Osland/The Australian

Its internal review found "irregularities" in superannuation payments made to employees. The bank has advised the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Financial Services Union it is engaged with third parties to investigate the full impact of the issue.

Mr Frazis said the bank was apologetic about the remuneration failures and rectifying the issues was an "absolute priority".

"We will get this right and we will make sure our people, past and present, receive every cent they are owed," he said.

BOQ noted the overall impairment expense equated to 37 basis points of its gross loan book value.

The bank also noted it would make a decision on paying a dividend to shareholders at it full-year results announcement in October.


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