Getting compliance right in the complex Australian system is difficult, especially so for small businesses. It is easy for small business operators to become so focused on the success of the business that they overlook the growing, changing and manifold requirements that they must comply with. With increasing focus and increasing penalties, now is the time for small businesses to spend time working on the business, not just in the business. In the fuel retail and wholesale industry, small businesses have access to advice, support and templates from a range of sources, including their industry associations. The regulators are also producing resources to help small businesses understand the requirements and build compliance into their systems. The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently launched the Small Business Showcase, a resource dedicated to assisting small businesses to understand and demonstrate compliance in the employment space.
The Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) Small Business Showcase is an online repository that includes tools to assess the businesses current understanding of the general requirements, as well as information on compliance and resources and templates to assist businesses to build that compliance into their own systems.
“The Showcase is a great jumping off point for small businesses who are interested in understanding the general requirements when it comes to employment compliance,” said Elisha Radwanowski, Executive Manager for Employment and Training for ACAPMA.
“The fact sheets and templates are particularly helpful as is the self-assessment checklist, as a starting point. What is important for fuel wholesalers and retailers to remember is that there are added complexities that come with operation in our industry. The Modern Awards can be difficult to apply in any industry, but the nature of the carve-outs for the fuel industry in both the wholesale and the retail Awards make them even more problematic” continued Mrs Radwanowski.
In launching the Showcase the Fair Work Ombudsman, Ms Natalie James, has again stressed the importance of compliance, and the commitment of the Regulator to work with businesses to understand and correct compliance breaches where they are found, but reminded businesses that ignorance is no defence. Speaking on the launch of the Showcase Ms James said “We take a proportionate and fair approach to enforcement action, but we also expect employers to have checked the rules that apply to them – if not with the Fair Work Ombudsman, with a qualified adviser. We also need them to promptly rectify any errors and back-pay workers what they are owed when they arise”.
The impact of small errors in understanding or implementation can add up to massive bills to small business in the form of back-pay, penalties and system adjustments. It is imperative for small business operators to have an understanding of the broader employment system in Australia and a detailed working understanding of the instruments and Awards that apply in their industry, in order to ensure compliant operations at a site level.
“ACAPMA has been working with businesses of all sizes for over 40 years to assist them to understand the requirements in the areas of employment, safety, environmental, dangerous goods, tobacco, food and fair trading compliance, and has detailed, industry-specific resources, and dedicated employment professionals to assist members in achieving and demonstrating compliance…it is what we do” concluded Mrs Radwanowski.
For more information on the Fair Work Ombudsman Small Business Showcase see the launch article here or to access the Showcase visit; https://www.fairwork.gov.au/small-business-showcase