1. More bite for the Fair Work Ombudsman
It’s likely new laws will be introduced early in the New Year to enhance the FWO’s examination powers to stamp down on employers providing false and misleading information to Fair Work Inspectors.
This makes it more important than ever to ensure all your employment records, timesheets and payroll systems are up-to-date and accurate. And should you be called upon by Fair Work Inspectors, be sure to assist the investigation in any way possible. Having full, easy to access, and up-to-date records is your best line of defense.
2. More pain for non-compliance
There’s also talk that the Government plans to raise the cost of non-compliance significantly. And when we say significantly, there’s speculation that penalties may be increased by up to ten times the current maximum. This is currently set at $54,000 for a corporation and $10,800 for an individual.
While the current penalties are already costly, this tenfold increase has the potential to ruin any business that fails to keep sufficient employment records or who underpays workers, either deliberatively or inadvertently.
If compliance has never been a major priority for you, perhaps now it should be!
3. More scope for accessorial liability
All franchisors should beware. Remember the Yoghurberry case of 2016, involving the underpayment of four Korean workers?
While the breaches in this case related to Yogurberry World, the franchise, the Court found that the master franchisor, owner, and an associated payroll company were also liable as accessories. And they all received harsh penalties.
Fast forward to 2017, and the Government is indicating that it will introduce new offense provisions that capture franchisors and parent companies who fail to deal with worker exploitation.
Plus, the reach of the provisions may also be expanded to include the supply chain, where you could be penalised for a knowing failure to take relevant responsibility for compliance violations across your supply chain.
HR compliance checklist
So, what can you do to make sure your business is in the best shape possible to meet your compliance obligations and start off the New Year on your front foot?
In a previous post on 7 common HR mistakes, we identified key areas of HR compliance where small business owners often make mistakes, or are tripped up by complicated rules. So, it’s essential that you cover these areas.
Consider the following as a checklist. How many can you confidently tick off?
Take a look at your employment contracts and agreements. If you haven’t reviewed them in the past year, there’s a good chance they may not be up-to-date with current legislation.
While it’s important that your workplace policies are up-to-date, you also need an audit trail to show you’ve enforced them. This includes ensuring that your employees know how to access your organisation’s policies, have read and acknowledged them. And where appropriate, training has been given.
Time and attendance:
Do you keep up-to-date records of every employee’s pay and time worked? Are these records accessible and easy to share with Fair Work Inspectors, should the need arise?
National Employment Standards:
Are you certain your employees’ pay, leave entitlements and other conditions meet minimum employment standards?
Are you confident that you are applying the appropriate award to your employees and are correctly calculating holiday pay? What about the provision of overtime, weekend rates, bonuses, commissions or other benefits in your calculations?
Have you checked that your contractors truly are contractors using the tool on the FWO’s website?
Work Health & Safety
Do you fully understand what’s involved in exercising due diligence?
And have you done everything possible to limit your Directors’ exposure to potential prosecutions under WHS legislation?
Automate HR compliance in 2017
The best way to eliminate most HR compliance risks is by using a purpose-built platform to automate and manage key HR and payroll tasks.
Of course, Employment Hero can do all this for you. As Australia’s premier all-in-one cloud-based HR, payroll and benefits platform, we provide you with all the tools and resources you need to hire great people, manage all the day-to-day HR tasks, and give your employees benefits to keep them super happy.
So, why don’t you set up a free account or request a demo today, and take Employment Hero for a spin. By using our modern HR tools, you’ll be able to give all your HR documents, systems and processes, the clean bill of health for 2017