Unlock Premium Data: Up to 50% Off InvestingProCLAIM SALE

Australia No.3 bank clinches union deal for staff to work from home

Published 07/13/2023, 10:16 PM
Updated 07/14/2023, 03:37 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The National Australia Bank Logo is seen on a branch in central Sydney, Australia, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo
AMZN
-
CMWAY
-

By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) - National Australia Bank (OTC:NABZY) (NAB), the No.3 lender, reached a deal that lets employees work from home, a union said on Friday, one of the world's first to give private-sector staff legal protection for remote work.

As part of a broader deal that guarantees pay rises for 80% of the bank's 32,000 staff, NAB must show "support of and encouragement of working from home arrangements" with limitations on the grounds for the employer to refuse a request, according to the Finance Sector Union (FSU).

The deal breaks new ground in a global standoff between corporations and their staff since bosses started calling an end to home-working arrangements that were precipitated by COVID-19. This week the Australian federal body that sets public sector wages also agreed to a union request for uncapped work from home days.

But the pressure point has gone largely unresolved in the private sector, including an unsuccessful class action lawsuit by employees of Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) requesting repayment of expenses related to working from home after it ordered a return to the office.

Some of Australia's biggest companies, including NAB and larger rival Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:CMWAY) (CBA), have set minimum office attendance requirements. But the country's capital city office vacancies remain around one-sixth, far higher than pre-pandemic levels, amid entrenched resistence.

The FSU said in a statement the agreement was a win for thousands of bank workers, adding that it would pressure other large Australian banks to match the new benchmark set by NAB.

A NAB spokesperson said the deal reflected the bank's guidelines since 2021 of at least two or three days a week in the office but highlighted "the option for colleagues to apply for flexible working arrangements" as defined in the country's workplace laws.

The deal comes two days after the FSU took CBA, the country's biggest bank which has 49,000 staff, to the industrial regulator to object to a directive to return to the office 50% of the time from this month.

In its complaint to the Fair Work Commission, the union said CBA's return-to-office directive would force staff to spend more money on commuting and child care and lose two to three hours a day travelling to and from work.

A CBA spokesperson said the bank respected its existing union agreement "and those matters that require consultation".

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The National Australia Bank Logo is seen on a branch in central Sydney, Australia, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo

"Flexible working options remain available, as they always have, and we'll continue to give consideration to our people who require more tailored arrangements," the spokesperson added.

No. 2 bank Westpac and the FSU are currently negotiating a new enterprise deal which includes the question of whether to allow work from home, the union said. (This story has been refiled to correct syntax and add a dropped word in paragraph 10)

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.