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Big four detail harassment complaints kept quiet

Sarah Kendell
— 1 minute read

Facing pressure to take workplace harassment more seriously in the wake of the AMP scandal, the big four banks have revealed the extent to which they have used non-disclosure agreements to deal with complaints of harassment over the last three years.

Responding to questions on notice from the House economics committee, the major banks revealed the number of sexual harassment complaints they had settled with non-disclosure agreements since 2017.

ANZ had the highest number of harassment-related confidentiality agreements, having entered into 29 “deeds of release” with either complainants or respondents in conduct matters since 1 October 2017.

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“Deeds of release ... usually require the employee not to disparage ANZ or its current or former employees, officers or agents,” the bank said.

“These deeds also require that the person signing them not disclose the contents of, or the negotiations relating to, the deed.”

NAB said it had entered into nine non-disclosure agreements since 2018, in respect of nine different cases that related to sexual harassment.

NAB said there was “no factual overlap” between the cases, and that three related to NSW employees, four to Victorian employees and two to Queensland staff.

Under questioning from the committee in a recent hearing, NAB chief executive Ross McEwan pointed out that in five of the nine instances, the complainant had requested the details be kept confidential.

Meanwhile, Westpac said it had settled two complaints with settlement deeds including non-disclosure clauses since 1 October 2017.

The bank said it had changed its policy to no longer require confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements with employees unless it was at the complainant’s request.

Commonwealth Bank declined to specify the number of confidentiality agreements entered into because of harassment complaints, saying only that “there have been a small number of sexual harassment matters resolved on terms including commitments to maintain confidentiality”.

“CBA takes sexual harassment very seriously and we do not tolerate such conduct in our workplace,” the bank said.

The news comes following the resignation of AMP board chair David Murray and AMP Capital chair John Fraser, and the demotion of former AMP Capital chief executive Boe Pahari in August over assertions that the group had not dealt adequately with harassment complaints made against Mr Pahari in 2017.

 

Big four detail harassment complaints kept quiet
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