Ensuring that you are getting employment right in your business has never been more important.  From restaurants to shopping cart collectors and ever industry  in between, non compliant operators are being exposed not only to the penalties under the law, but to the continuing controversy of front page news.  The vast majority of operators are committed to compliance and are actively seeking ways to ensure they are meeting all of the employment requirements, yet it is an area that many businesses lack confidence and experience in.  As operators of retail petrol sites it is important to understand the elements of employment compliance, and to ensure that systems are in place to not only achieve compliance, but to be able to demonstrate compliance to regulators and staff.  There are extensive penalties for non-compliance, and extensive damage that can be done to your brand if you get it wrong.  Now is the time to check compliance, or be swept up in controversy.

Understanding and demonstrating employment compliance is a business pressure that all employers face.  In the downstream petroleum industry many retail petrol site operators are actively working in the business, taking shifts behind the console, and have little time to spend in the office on paperwork.  There are places to go for assistance and advice, such as industrial organisations, however many operators do not take this step until something goes wrong, or a regulator appears onsite to inspect compliance.

For almost 40 years the association has been working with members to help them understand and achieve compliance in the employment space.  As a Registered Industrial Organisation ACAPMA provides advice, assistance and representation to members in HR and IR areas.  This includes representing members in unfair dismissals, general employment disputes and trade union disputes as well as working proactively to understand and achieve best practice.

ACAPMA’s Executive Manager for Employment, Elisha Radwanowski, highlights some of the areas that regulators will be looking at when assessing employment compliance in a retail petrol station.

‘When a regulator is looking at employment compliance in a retail petrol station they start with the same questions that they ask of every business.  Have staff been provided with a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement?  Are the staff engaged under the correct Award?  Are the staff classified correctly?  Are the staff being paid correctly?  Are pay slips complete and accurate?  Is superannuation paid and communicated correctly? Is the Casual Conversion process followed?.  The regulator is expecting that the business will be able to easily show, through processes, procedures and documents, that they have these simple thing right in the business.  If they cannot then there will be deeper investigations and penalties for non-compliance will be applied’.

As a retail petrol business it is important to get the simple things right, this starts with the right Award.

‘As an Association one of the questions we are often asked by new entrants to the industry is which Award applies to staff at a retail petrol site.  While many retail petrol sites may view themselves as a shop that sells fuel the Awards are clear, fuel retailing is a specific job classification that falls under the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010.  There have been some that have suggested that it would be appropriate to engage staff under the General Retail Award 2010, however this Award specifically EXCLUDES Console Operators, Driveway Attendants and Roadhouse Attendants (General Retail Award Clause 3.1 “does not include motor vehicle retailing and motor vehicle fuel retailing”).  There is only one Award for these fuel retail staff – the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010 ’, explains Elisha.

‘The application of the correct Award is only the beginning, and simple things, like the provision of the Fair Work Information Statement, if not done correctly and documented, can carry penalties.  In the case of the Fair Work Information Statement the penalty is $54,000 per offence.  The same can be said for the offering of Casual Conversion for systemic casuals.  This is an area that is simple enough to get right, but that requires appropriate documentation in order to be able to demonstrate compliance to a regulator, and failure to demonstrate this compliance comes with heavy penalties.  A single offence can be crippling to a retail business.  Over the past 40 years what we at the Association have found is that very often the simple things are not documented to a level that businesses can demonstrate compliance to a regulator.  The practices may exist within the business, and to a high standard, but if the business is not documenting correctly then demonstrating compliance to a regulator becomes problematic.’ Elisha adds.

To assist businesses across the industry in better understanding employment compliance, and the gaps to demonstrating employment compliance in a specific business, the Association offers the Compliance Partner Program which included a voluntary assisted compliance audit, to ‘health check’ the businesses compliance in the areas of employment, safety and environment.  The Program is a desktop audit, that comes with no penalties for non compliance, asks many of the questions an inspector would, and produces a report that identifies gaps in the businesses ability to demonstrate compliance.  The Program then provides template documents and information to assist businesses with addressing the identified gaps and establishing systems to facilitate the demonstration of compliance to a regulator.

‘Businesses taking advantage of the Program get to spend some time discussing with an employment professional, what compliance looks like and how they can achieve it in their business and then receive the support they need to achieve compliance, all in a no-penalty framework that does not penalise businesses for non-compliance, but assists them to move towards compliance’  concluded Elisha.

The vast majority of businesses are looking after employees and are operating compliant, engaged businesses.  The unfortunate reality is that with every non compliant “cowboy” business that the regulator exposes, the opinion of employers as a whole is effected.  Increasingly employment compliance is becoming a concern for the media, the public and consumers, making the ability to demonstrate compliance even more important for all operators.