Employment compliance is again in the news. A series of errors and breaches by employers has drawn the media and public’s attention. ACAPMA notes that compliance in this area is difficult to attain, and due to the changing nature of requirements, is difficult to maintain. Employment compliance is difficult, but it is key to successful business operation – and businesses do not have to work it out on their own. ACAPMAs Assisted Compliance Audit program has been designed to assist businesses in understanding the requirements and ensuring that they are implementing systems that support compliance.

With the focus on compliance businesses often scream “what do I need to do to get it right?”, and getting to an answer on this is very difficult. Not just because compliance is business critical, but also because the broader employment compliance environment is constantly changing as new legislative and court based changes impact employers.

Businesses are encouraged to engage with their industry association to understand the requirements and seek the assistance they need to achieve this.

ACAPMA has facilitated this approach through the development of the ACAPMA Assisted Compliance Audit. This Audit is a comprehensive desktop audit that does more than identify problems, it works with the businesses to deliver solutions to close the gaps and deliver demonstrable compliance. 

The ACAPMA Assisted Compliance Audits have been in operation for many years. From single site operators through to the major brands the industry has been actively engaging in the voluntary process.

“It is a cornerstone of the Audit that businesses are supported with the resources and templates that they need to ensure their systems are appropriate” explains Elisha Radwanowski, Executive Manager Employment and Training, ACAPMA.

“BP Australia as well as other Major and minor networks have long been supporters of the program and have been working on detailed rollout of the program to their sites and encouragement of take up by their partners” finished Elisha.

“It is encouraging to see the engagement with the Audit program grow year on year and at all levels including the large networks and the small businesses, all of which have seen value in the program” continued Elisha.

Audit and Re-audit

The 2020/2021 Audits are about to commence, and as many sites look at undertaking their third or fourth audit, some may question why they should bother with compliance audits every year.  The short answer is, because compliance is a moving target and the only way to ensure the systems in your business are working is to regularly review them.  This is a lesson that one business learnt the hard way…

Case Study

ACAPMA audited a group of sites, their experience highlights again why annual checks are important.

The situation

The business had been audited in the past, by ACAPMA, and received a positive report and confirmation that the payroll system was operational and appropriate.  Based on this assessment the business was reluctant to be audited again, initially expressing the sentiment that ‘we were checked and all is fine so we don’t need to do it again’.

Eventually the business decided to undergo the audit process again, and as part of the most recent audit it was highlighted that the payroll system and the rates applied more recently, unintentionally represented an underpayment within the business. 

This sort of underpayment is not uncommon and pertains to a misapplication of the shift loading rates and does not represent a malicious act. 

The business was understandably confused at being presented with an underpayment, particularly given the previous positive audit outcome, and was genuinely distressed at the idea that they had inadvertently underpaid some staff.

So what went wrong?

At the core of this case was a change to the nature of the way work was undertaken at the sites between the initial audit and the subsequent one. 

At the time of the initial audit the business engaged only 2 permanent staff, both site managers working only day shifts, at the time of the re-audit the business engaged over 24 permanent staff working day, afternoon and night shifts in a variety of roles.

The result of this change to the operation at the business level from a primarily casual staff base to a primarily permanent staff base,  was that the shift loading, that is applicable only to permanent employees working shifts that commence after midday on a weekday, was not assessed or applied correctly within the business due to a lack of familiarity.

Addressing issues

The business fully addressed the unintended underpayment to all staff and now understanding the complexity of the shift loading requirements for permanent staff when not working day shift, the business has engaged with ACAPMA to draft a Flexibility Agreement approach that will allow for the creation and application of a racked rate for each employee that represents the roster that they work and includes the shift loading in a way that the businesses simple payroll system can accommodate.

Learnings for all businesses

The takeway for all business is;

  • Any change to operations within the business has implications – changing from casual to permanent employment has significantly different employment compliance requirements and should be undertaken with guidance and care
  • A clean bill of health for a business only applies to the business as assessed, at that time – compliance requirements, and business realties change rapidly and a business that was “all good” can quickly develop an underpayment situation is they are not regularly reviewing both the compliance requirements and the business realities

Case Study Summary:  This business did ACAPMA Audit a couple of years ago and didn’t want to have to do it again, but did it anyway and found that due to changes in the business (using more permanent staff) the business had gone from a clean bill of health on employment compliance, to underpayments that could have resulted in millions of dollars worth of fines and damage to their reputation as committed to compliance.  Backpay was issued, systems updated and Directors were devastated. The business now sees the value of checking in with compliance annually, even when everything passes the audit the year before.

ACAPMA Assisted Compliance Audits

The ACAPMA Assisted Compliance Audits are more than just a tick and flick exercise, and more than a listing of things to fix, they are part of the Association delivering on its core function of actively working with Members to ensure they understand and can demonstrate compliance. 

The ACAPMA Assisted Compliance Audits supply participating sites with resources, templates, documents and the advice and support of ACAPMAs qualified Employment Professionals. 

ACAPMA Assisted Compliance Audits are available to ACAPMA Members at a cost of $425 inc GST per site. 

For more information on the ACAPMA Assisted Compliance Audits please email employment@acapma.com.au