Dominique Lamb Message spend

Compliance with industrial relations laws in Australia can be highly complicated, but it’s something which all businesses need to understand.

Wage compliance is a topic that has dominated headlines over the last 18 months. Businesses ranging from restaurant chains, to cosmetic stores and even the Australian Broadcasting Channel (ABC) have been found to be incorrectly paying various workers they employ. In the last couple of weeks, the issue has reared its head again with first Rockpool Dining Group and then Woolworths being found to have underpaid staff.

There’s no denying the complex nature of the Modern Award system provides rather onerous terms and conditions regarding worker entitlements. However, given ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse that cuts it with either the Fair Work Ombudsman or the general public, all retailers need to be alert and proactive when complying with responsibilities regarding employees’ pay.

The Modern Award system is highly complicated and often difficult to navigate and so underpayment issues could easily happen to any Australian business. From our experience, when underpayment does occur, it is usually detected by the business in question who then self-report to the Fair Work Ombudsman. In most cases, the employer then makes every attempt to identify the size of the discrepancy and ensure that all past and present employees are back-paid the correct amount.

Unfortunately, most of those points above often get overlooked when an underpayment claim makes headlines, so it’s desirable for everyone – business owners and employees – if the right payment is made the first time around.

With the Christmas holidays almost upon us, now is a good time to make sure that you and your systems are up to speed with your compliance obligations. This period comes with a raft of public holidays, as well as possibly seeing your business trade in hours it otherwise wouldn’t, which may mean a change in worker entitlements.

If you’re unsure as to whether you’re complying with your responsibilities, the good news is that the NRA is here to help. The NRA has one of the largest in-house teams of workplace relations experts orientated to the retail and services industries across Australia. The NRA provides members with up-to-date wage summaries, delivers regular webinars to educate our members on compliance matters and our legal department is always on hand for any queries retailers have in relation to workplace law. Incidentally, our next Rostering for Compliance webinar is tomorrow and you can register here. If you can’t make one of our webinars or if you have a specific query you’d like clarified, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).