Holidays should be a time for relaxing. Unfortunately, given the complicated regulatory environment we operate in, they can be a cause of great stress for Australian retailers.
Any business owner or operator knows that this country has a complicated industrial relations system. And understanding and complying with this system is no small feat. Similarly, our laws governing when businesses can open and are required to close their doors for trading over holiday periods are just as complicated.
With the recent Easter long weekend and upcoming ANZAC Day holiday, businesses need to be well across regulations on when and how long they can trade. Trading hours for these holidays are quite complicated; they vary from state to state and even by the size of businesses. Retailers should research these trading hour regulations to make sure they are compliant with the law. The National Retail Association provides this guide that can help.
Holidays also bring with them a need for retailers trading over these periods to understand fully the terms and conditions under which their staff are paid, particularly with respect to penalty rates, overtime, hours of work, breaks, rosters and allowances.
There have been a number of high-profile cases in the media lately of businesses identifying payment issues to do with their payroll and, often, the modern award system. Some of these cases have involved errors in payroll processing dating back to the introduction of the modern award in 2010. Often, the problem has also been put down to the fact that a company’s payroll systems have failed to keep up with rapid growth in the business.
Any business – small, medium or large – needs to be using payroll systems that are sophisticated enough to correctly interpret the intricacies of modern awards while also handling the growth, or potential growth, of the business.
Companies who have discovered these payment errors have been absolutely and genuinely distressed to discover that they have been underpaying their staff and have done everything they can to make sure their workers, past and present, are paid their full entitlements.
Under the Fair Work Act, being ignorant of a problem will be no excuse for companies who fail to comply with the regulations regarding pay and entitlements.
This holiday, it’s timely to think about your payroll infrastructure to make sure it’s up to date, is properly maintained and updated regularly. If you’ve identified an issue, action should be taken straight away. The longer the delay, the bigger the issue.
But if you do identify an issue, the NRA is also here to help.