Woolworths CEO forgoes $2.6 million bonus over underpayments scandal

Four weeks after supermarket giant Woolworths admitted underpaying its staff up to $300 million, CEO Brad Banducci has accepted responsibility and has announced he will forgo his A$2.6 million bonus this year.

“I have made the personal decision to forgo my F20 short-term bonus because I believe it is the right thing for me to do as CEO,” Banducci said in a statement.

Woolworths Group chairman Gordon Cairns also accepted responsibility for the salary blunder and has taken a 20 per cent cut to his A$790,531 board fee.

“I accept that, as the chairman of the Board, I have a higher level of responsibility than my board colleagues, and therefore have decided to take a 20% reduction in my Board fee for F20,” Cairns said.

Banducci and Gordon admitted that they had let team members and said the priority now is to ensure employees receive the money owed as soon as possible.

“Our goal remains to finalise a full review of this issue by the end of the financial year,” they said in a joint statement.

On October 30, the retailer admitted underpaying around 5700 staff up to A$300 million, in a salary blunder that could date back as far as 2010. The underpayment affected store team members at Woolworths Supermarkets and Metro stores.

While the group has only yet analysed data between September 2017 and August 2019, it found that “the number of hours worked, and when they were worked, were not adequately factored into the individual salary settings” for thousands of workers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman said it will be conducting an investigation in relation to Woolworths’ self-disclosure and hold them to account for breaching workplace laws.

Woolworths Group will provide further updates of the issue at the half year results in February.

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