The Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, made an announcement at a recent Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) briefing that put employers and advisers on notice when complying with workplace laws and regulations.
New penalties have been implemented to fine individuals who are involved in facilitating a breach of the law as accessories. Before recently, Fair Work found the employer to be the only body responsible for breaches of the law however, the law now extends responsibility to accessories in the contravention. Section 550 of the Fair Work Act now states, “involvement in contravention treated in same way as actual contravention.”
Fair Work has extended the range of accessories liable to include directors, contractors, franchisors, administration or day to day managers, human resource managers, staff engaged to assist with recruitment and supervision, payroll, and companies or individuals involved through supply chain or franchise networks.
The first to experience this new extension was former director, Mr Owen Jennings, from ‘Step Ahead Security Services’. Mr Jennings was fined $51,400 and ordered to repay underpaid employees up to $23,000 in wages. The penalty was subject to exploitation of the legal framework, history of non-compliance and vulnerable employees.
The inclusion of accessory liability was implemented to seek a drastic change in organisations’ behaviour in order to create and sustain compliance within workplaces. The National Retail Association emphasises caution to employers and accessories of unlawful action, as monetary penalties are not the only form of disciplinary action against the organisation – your brand and reputation may also be in jeopardy.
By being a member of the NRA you are taking your professional responsibilities within the company seriously. Calling the NRA Hotline is the first step to ensure that your business stays out of the negative spotlight. You can also be assured that our Workplace Advisors will guide you in the right direction to create a fair and ethical workplace.
For more information about your responsibilities as an employer or advisor please call the National Retail Association Hotline on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).