Australia's Woolworths says CEO to forgo bonus after wage scandal

(Reuters) - Australia's biggest grocery chain Woolworths Group Ltd WOW.AX said on Wednesday Chief Executive Officer Brad Banducci would forgo his bonus following an underpayment scandal.

The underpayment of workers has emerged as a hot-button issue in Australia this year, and the admission from the country’s biggest company by revenue had prompted a government agency to say it would investigate Woolworths.

Acknowledging payment shortfalls to employees, Banducci would forgo his full-year 2020 short-term bonus of A$2.6 million ($1.76 million), while Chairman Gordon Cairns would take a 20% reduction in his board fee, the company said.

Woolworths shares were trading 0.5% higher in early trade.

In October, Woolworths said it had underpaid thousands of supermarket workers for years and would need to repay as much as A$300 million, becoming the most high-profile company to join the list of firms to be caught up in wage scandals across corporate Australia.

“As a Group, we have let many of our salaried team members down. And our priority right now is to ensure that they receive the money they are owed as quickly as possible,” Banducci and Cairns said.

The company board has endorsed the proposals by the two officials.

Other companies embroiled in wage scandals this year include Super Retail Group Ltd SUL.AX, a seller of auto, sports and outdoor goods, jeweller Michael Hill International Ltd MHJ.AX and retail conglomerate Wesfarmers WES.AX.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Subhranshu Sahu