There are indications from the ACNC of concern with regard to a shortfall in fulfilment of compliance obligations amongst organisations in the charity/not for profit sector. Knowledge gaps can be understandable amongst Boards of Governance comprised of volunteers however an absence of remuneration for Board members is not synonymous with lack of good governance. Governance, risk and compliance complement each other as the foundation for not only strong management but also a strong and well-controlled agency that generates confidence in staff, stakeholders and donors in respect of performance and sustainabilty.
Compliance Essentials provides Board mentoring and guidance on governance matters including a review of organisational risk exposure. Contact us for an initial chat on 1300 602 880 or via our website www.complianceessentials.com.au
Will your business be affected by imminent changes to Privacy legislation? If so, now is the time to take action.
On 12 March 2014, significant changes to Australian privacy law come into effect. These changes will regulate how both private (generally with turnover in excess of $3m) and government organisations collect, store and use data. To find out if these amendments will apply to your organisation check out the OAIC website.
The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 to the Privacy Act 1988 extends the number of privacy principles to thirteen.. Organisations that fall within the scope of the principles (APP entities) must comply with these principles, or risk investigation from the regulator and possible penalties. Notably, Principle 8 puts the onus on applicable entities to ensure the security of trans-border data flow – particular care needs to be taken in relation to use of cloud computing and overseas network providers. There is still time before the amendment comes into effect to ensure that any overseas provider in this respect is aware of your requirements to have in place measures that will comply with the legislation.
Further the principles make it mandatory for organisations to give the option of client-anonymity. Good practice for internet trading and other electronic data collection is to include an opt-out clause when gathering client information. Failure to maintain data integrity or to ensure that information is collected through compliant methods, may present substantial financial and reputational risks.
The obligations of the Act and the Privacy Principles are enforceable by the Australian Information Commissioner (AIC). As part of the legislative amendment, the Commissioner’s regulatory powers have been expanded with powers to investigate perceived breaches. The AIC is empowered to conduct privacy audits of any Australian government body or regulated private organisation; where serious breaches are found, the Commissioner can penalise APP entities up to $1.1 million.
Why expose your business to risk? For assistance with your compliance and risk management functions contact Compliance Essentials today on 1300 602 880 or via our website www.complianceessentials.com.au
Transitional options for ACNC registrations finish on 2 December 2013, organisations who wish to opt in as ‘religious’ charities need to make a submission by that date or will be required to apply for charitable registration after that deadline.
For other registered charities with a financial year of 30 June and who have not yet submitted an Annual Information Statement to the ACNC, the latest circular from the regulator states that the deadline for filing the first AIS has been extended to March 2014.
The ACNC continues to post useful governance and administrative tools on its website as well as providing electronic options for reporting organisational changes as well as the AIS.
Finding red tape isn’t quite as sparse as promised? Contact Compliance Essentials for assistance with governance and other compliance needs; call 1300 602 880 or via our website www.complianceessentials.com.au
There may be close on six months until the changes to Privacy Legislation are effected (12 March 2014) nevertheless all organisations that fall within the scope of the legislation are encouraged to take this window of opportunity to review their operational activities in relation to upcoming requirements as well as reviewing and updating privacy policies and procedures.
The changes bring 13 APP (privacy principles) that will apply to both government and non-government organisations, in addition the Information Commissioner (www.oaic.gov.au) will have regulatory powers to investigate and penalise an organisation found to be non-compliant in terms of the legislation.
Watch out for APP 8 if your organisation sends personal information off-shore (note ‘cloud computing’) and the changes with regard to Credit Reporting. Further information on the reforms is available at www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/privacy-law-reform.
Does your organisation need a privacy health check? Contact Compliance Essentials for an initial (no charge) discussion.
Those not-for-profit organisations that are registered as charities with the ACNC have a continuing requirement to keep an eye on ongoing activities at the Commission.
As of 1 July 2013 registered charitable organisations are obligated to comply with the requirements of the five Governance Standards determined by the Commission. In summary the standards require:
#1 Determination of purpose and not for profit nature
#2 Accountability to members
#3 Compliance with Australian laws
#4 Suitability of responsible persons (e.g. members of Board of Governance/Committee of Management)
#5 Fulfilment of duties by responsible persons
Registered charities also need to consider the data required to complete the Annual Information Statement for 2013; note a recent announcement from ACNC indicates that there will be an option to complete the statement on line.
Does your registered charity need some assistance with governance and compliance? Be risk averse and contact us on 1300 602 880 or via our website www.complianceessentials.com.au
Compliance Essentials has been following the progress of ACNC prior to the legislation being effected and is continuing to keep up to date with the governance responsibilities that have and will arise for NFPs. In our working relationship with not-for-profit organisations our perception is that some organisations are finding ACNC information requests and interpretation of future requirements a potential burden.
If you are a charitable organisation we would love to hear how you are settling into being part of ACNC. Please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via our website at www.complianceessentials.com.au/contact us
Regards, the Compliance Essentials Team
The Power of Written Agreements
Some businesses consider it a nuisance, or at best an unnecessary procedure, to commit agreements to a written document. Agreed, creating a written contract can take a bit of time, sometimes there will be a cost, however whilst a verbal contract is legally valid it does require equal interpretation by both parties of meaning and intention in order to avoid dispute.
Examples of agreements to consider implementing in a written form? Simplistically:
- Employment contracts
- Supplier contracts
- Customer agreements
- Contractor agreements
What are some of the benefits of written agreements?
- Signed mutual agreement between the parties
- Easily accessible information
- Reduced opportunity for dispute with regard to meaning and intention
- Reduced risk of misunderstanding
It pays to take the time and effort to produce a written document at the start of the engagement; a much more effective process than determining an answer in resolution to an undocumented business agreement.
Compliance Essentials can assist your business with internal process and systems; contact us www.complianceessentials.com.au
The anagram of ‘compliant’? Easy, the answer is ‘complaint’. That, however, is not the simple mistake.
The simple mistake is for an organisation to fail to consider being compliant until there is a complaint. Complaints in themselves can be costly and result in a need to reallocate core resources for problem resolution as well as potentially losing custom; when the complaint is from a regulator the outcomes can be much more onerous. The impact in terms of both tangible and intangible costs to remedy a proven compliance breach are far greater than committing financial and staff resources in endeavouring to make an organisation compliant in the first instance.
Reduce the risk of the occurrence of unwitting compliance breaches in your organisation by contacting Compliance Essentials on 1300 602 880 or via our website at www.complianceessentials.com.au
The first in the series of Simple Mistakes looks at ACN/ABN and company documentation:
Is your Australian business incorporated via ASIC? If so your company must operate by the rules determined in the Corporations Act 2001.
Are your company documents correct?
The Act (s153) requires that a company sets out its name on all public documents along with the company’s ACN (Australian Company Number) or ABN (Australian Business Number) – for a two page or more document the above information must be shown on the first page.
Is your ABN displayed?
All businesses with ABNs
Make sure that your ABN is clearly displayed on your invoices to customers to avoid a withholding tax deduction from your incoming payment.
Compliance Essentials can assist with all your business compliance requirements, contact us on 1300 602 880 or via our website
Changes to Fair Work came into effect on 1 January 2013. What do these mean to an employer?
Over arching all the changes, Fair Work Australia was renamed the Fair Work Commission; the web address for information is now www.fwc.gov.au.
Included in the legislative changes:
- The time limit for lodging an unfair dismissal claim increases from 14 to 21 days;
- the time limit for loding a general protections dismissal claim reduces from 60 to 21 days from the date of dismissal;
- Changes come into effect with regard to enterprise agreements
For more information go to www.fwc.gov.au. Need help with HR management or other compliance matters? Contact Compliance Essentials on 1300 602 880 or via our website at www.complianceessentials.com.au.