Commonwealth Bank of Australia is being taken to court by a union over its alleged failure to give thousands of retail banking employees millions of dollars worth of tea breaks.
The Finance Sector Union (FSU) has lodged a claim in the Federal Court, arguing that around 3000 workers have lost out on a combined $45 million by not getting the paid 10-minute breaks they are entitled to.
FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano says CBA employees are entitled to one paid 10-minute rest break after working three hours and a second after five hours in addition to a 45-minute unpaid lunch break.
However, most branch workers are not able to take these because of "understaffing," claims Angrisano, who continues: “This is wage theft. Make no mistake, if you are not able to take a paid rest break, then you’re having ten minutes of time stolen from you. It adds up very fast."
Angrisano says that the union wants the money repaid but also for CBA to staff branches "realistically" so that employees can take the breaks they are entitled to.
"It’s pretty disgraceful that Australia’s biggest, richest bank is choosing to engage in wage theft and deliberate understaffing," she adds.
The union claims that CBA has previously argued that compensation is not owed in relation to the breaks because they’re paid time so even when they’re not taken, no pay is lost but Angrisano calls this "weasel words".
In a statement to media, CBA says: “We have not received the claim referred to in the FSU’s press release. We will carefully review it once it is served.”