Mid 2011 we commented on the need for employers to ensure fair pay.  Breaking news today reports the penalty imposed  on Hungry Jack’s Bendigo, Victoria, in relation to staff underpayment as the outcome of a Fair Work audit.  As well as the financial fine the employer has incurred a large sum in staff backpay. This reinforces the concept that employers make payroll and employment terms and conditions a part of their internal compliance program.

Contact us for a payroll compliance review www.complianceessentials.com.au

The Compliance Essentials Team

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2012, we take the opportunity to review some of the compliance activity in 2011 and two of the important happenings for next year.

What’s happened in 2011

There has been a lot of activity throughout the year with major impacts on the compliance obligations that form part of the way that we run our respective organisations.

Competitions and Consumer Act 2010 replacing the Trade Practices Act, this legislation was effective from 1 January 2011 and includes Australian Consumer Law as a schedule to the Act.  During the year the ACCC have been active in identifying compliance breaches particularly in relation to consumer law; information remains available on relevant websites as to the obligations and responsibilities that now apply nationally.

Paid Parental Leave another Australia wide legislative requirement with employers becoming the paymaster for the scheme as of July.  Information is available from the Centrelink website.

Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Victoria) effective from August 2011, this legislation not only widens the net for the organisations that are bound by the Act but also imposes a duty on employers to demonstrate a positive attitude to operating an equality based, non-discriminatory, workplace.

Bullying June 2011 saw workplace bullying determined as a criminal offence in Victoria, carrying a prison sentence for those found guilty of the offence up to a maximum of ten years.

Centro Case the judgement in this prominent case particularly noted the duty of care that is required of company directors in relation to their organisation’s financial matters as well as a requirment to maintain knowledge of company operations.

What’s Ahead for 2012

WHS Harmonisation for some states there will be a uniformity of OH&S legislation and requirements from 1 January 2012; Victoria, WA, South Australia and Tasmania have not yet passed legislation and the commencement date for these states is unconfirmed.  Business need to be aware that if they have operations inter-state that the home state legislation will apply in all instances and that irrespective of the implementation of the Model Act in their own home state, organisations trading with Commonwealth agencies will be bound by the Model Act regardless.

Not-For-Profit Organisations the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) is now in action, moving to a start date of July 2012.  An implementation Taskforce has been appointed and a Community Consultations schedule has been planned, visiting capital cities from the end of January to mid February.  For more information on these discussions and how NFP’s can have their say click on the link below http://acnctaskforce.treasury.gov.au/content/Content.aspx?doc=communityengagement/communityconsultations.htm

The Compliance Essentials Team www.complianceessentials.com.au

Three fundamental questions, how many businesses can answer ‘yes’ to all three?

Are worksafe posters displayed in staff areas in case of injury?

Does the business have a Risk and Rehabilitation Policy?

Does your business comply with legislative requirements in relation to a Return to Work Coordinator?

Need assistance with these and other health and safety matters, please contact us for an introductory, free of charge, no obligation discussion at www.complianceessentials.com.au

The Compliance Essentials Team

T: 1300 602 880

E: info@complianceessentials.com.au

Australia isn’t far away from OH&S Harmonisation; some employers are dragging their heels in this respect.  Adopting a compliant culture, be it in relation to OH&S and/or to other legislation that applies to organisational activities, is not applying a policing regime it is a formula for recognising and enmeshing responsibilities and obligations into an organisation at the same time reviewing business activities to work towards continuous improvement and best practice; helping the bottom line.

Compliance Essentials offers an introductory, no obligation, discussion to assist businesses with compliance concerns.  www.complianceessentials.com.au

There are certain circumstances where employees are protected from unfair dismissal, the summary of these circumstances are set out in s382 of the Fair Work Act 2009.  To be eligible to make a claim for unfair dismissal an employee must have completed the minimum employment period – 6 months immediately before or at the time of dismissal or one year if a small business employer – and also be subject to one of:
covered by a Modern Award relating to the employment;
covered by an enterprise agreement applicable to the employment;
have an aggregated annual rate of earnings less than the ‘high income threshold’

Employers must ensure that any dismissal is carried out with procedural fairness for the process not be be classified as ‘harsh, unjust or unreasonable’

The Compliance Essentials Team
www.complianceessentials.com.au

It’s a tough market right now but we all expect that will change.

Even if turnover is down or plateauing, business performance can be improved by reviewing existing processes in tandem with committing to a compliant organisational culture; the first financial benefit may be seen in reduced insurance premiums, there are further ways of adding value.

And as the market improves?  The benefits will still be there…..

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The Compliance Essentials Team

www.complianceessentials.com.au

Policies and procedures are worth the paper they are written on.  Creating an up to date suite of policies and procedures sets the foundation stones for the way an organisation operates, can determine behaviours, provides great tools for staff training.  Relevant compliance obligations need to be addressed where applicable and both policies and procedures regularly reviewed and updated as necessary.  A suite of policies and procedures is a reference point for management and staff, it can be soft copy, hard copy or both (provided it is accessible). Not all procedures have to be accessible to every level of staff but relevant documents should be.

A recent claim for unfair dismissal was upheld in the employee’s favour (a truck driver who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol) because the employer hadn’t followed the correct procedure.   The comment below is from the presiding Fair Work Commissioner

Procedural fairness requires that the employee be advised of the likely consequences of their conduct so that they may take action to defend themselves.  This is not something to set aside without good reason.”

Tell us your experiences