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Factbox: Growing list of Australian companies underpaying staff

(Reuters) - Some of Australia’s biggest companies have been caught up in underpayment scandals, prompting the federal government to say it would introduce tougher laws that criminalize what it called “wage theft” and ban executives from being company directors if they were involved.

Here are some companies which recently admitted to underpaying staff:

** Retail conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd WES.AX said it had underpaid employees at its Target department store business by A$9 million ($6 million). This was on top of the errors disclosed in October when it said about 6,000 staff in other divisions were underpaid about A$15 million since 2010.

** Coles Group COL.AX, the country's second largest grocery chain, said it had underpaid some store managers for six years and posted near-flat earnings for the half year as it included a A$20 million provision for staff remediation payments.

** Australia's largest supermarket operator Woolworths Group WOW.AX said it had underpaid thousands of supermarket workers for years and would need to repay as much as A$300 million, prompting its chief executive to forgo his short-term bonus and its chairman to take a 20% reduction in his board fee.

** Commonwealth Bank of Australia CBA.AX said it would pay A$25 million to current and former employees who were found in a review to have been underpaid, and its chief executive apologized for "past errors."

** Car retailer AP Eagers APE.AX said anomalies in its payroll system led to about 6,200 employees being underpaid over seven years by up to A$4.5 million.

** Australian celebrity chef George Calombaris, who shot to local fame through his role on the television show “Masterchef”, said he had underpaid hundreds of his restaurant employees by nearly A$8 million over six years. Calombaris’ restaurant group went into voluntary administration, local media reported last week.

** Jewelery retailer Michael Hill International Ltd MHJ.AX said it would incur one-off costs of up to A$25 million to rectify underpaying a number of its store workers over the last six years.

** Super Retail Group SUL.AX said it would make cost provisions of about A$43 million for compensating its retail store managers for the underpayment of overtime and other allowances over six years.

** The Australian Broadcasting Corp said here a review of 2,575 casual staff found that 1,886 were underpaid.

Complied by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Byron Kaye and Amy Caren Daniel

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