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ASIC’s strategic outlook: compliance and culture are key

ASIC has published its Strategic Outlook for 2014-15, which, according to the ASIC website, is a new initiative which sets out the key risks ASIC sees in the markets it regulates, and how ASIC will respond – prioritising its tools of surveillance and enforcement.

The Outlook contains a mixture of old and new messages and insights from the regulator into its role and the expectations placed upon it. Parts of the Outlook repeat content published in other ASIC releases during 2014, for example the importance of listed entities being vigilant about disclosures during investor and analyst briefings. But, in addition to delivering its standard message of ‘detect, understand and respond’, the Outlook includes some interesting commentary from its Chairman and reveals the trends continuing to shape the regulator’s focus for the 2014-15 period.

Size is irrelevant

In his Chairman’s message, Greg Medcraft philosophises on the financial year to date, and fires some fighting words targeted at those entities who might believe that they are immune to its authority, such as those perceived to be ‘too big to fail‘.

Mr Medcraft said ASIC ‘makes the best use of its resources and powers to prioritise and manage the risks we see’. Mr Medcraft also promises that ASIC is ‘committed to learning from our past experiences’ and that it will take enforcement action against entities ‘regardless of their size or reputation’.

These commitments are not new. They echo some of Mr Medcraft’s statements made to the Parliamentary Joint Committee, in an opening statement given in September 2014, referring to the findings the Report from the Senate Economics References Committee.

Perhaps of more value to interested parties is where ASIC intends to focus its priorities for this remaining financial year.

Key challenges

ASIC’s key challenges for 2014-15 are:

  • the need to balance the competing interests of a free market-based system, and investor and financial consumer protection;
  • digital disruption in our financial services and markets;
  • structural change in our financial system through growth of market-based financing, largely driven by growth in superannuation;
  • financial innovation-driven complexity in products, markets and technology; and
  • the impact of globalisation on out financial markets.

In relation to the first dot point, ASIC has a particular focus on ensuring that entities have a ‘culture and systems that emphasise the best interests of their customers’.

In addition to listing its key challenges, ASIC identifies its key risks in the areas of conduct, innovation-driven complexity, globalisation and the expectation gap. This article will discuss the conduct and expectation gap risks.

Gatekeeper conduct

Dividing the gatekeeper responsibilities between markets and financial services, ASIC emphasises the individual responsibility of all participants in maintaining investor trust and confidence.

Markets

In addition to repeating its concern about analyst and investor briefings, ASIC also reminded entities to manage conflicts of interest, given the significant investor losses that can arise if they are not managed properly.

To manage the risks posed by poor gatekeeper conduct in markets, ASIC will continue to focus its surveillance on insider trading, market manipulation, continuous disclosure breaches and poor governance practices and systems.

Financial services

ASIC emphasised the role that Australia Financial Services Licensees can play as gatekeepers to ensure the quality of financial advice being provided by advisers. ASIC expressed its ‘concern’ about the culture of financial services businesses and the incentive structures they use (something the Freedom of Financial Advice reforms are intended to address) and urged financial services businesses to:

  • have policies, procedures and place to comply with their legal obligations; and
  • implement controls that are followed and reviewed for effectiveness.

These key elements of a good governance program will help financial services businesses to ensure that the ‘welfare of their customers should be at the heart of their business’.

To manage the risks posed by poor gatekeeper conduct in financial services, ASIC will focus its surveillance on compliance in large financial institutions, and advice and dealing activities in:

  • financial advice firms (by targeting the six largest financial advice institutions to test how they comply with high-risk areas of the law); and
  • responsible entities operating managed investment schemes (by continuing to identify ‘red flags’ and focus on high-risk entities).

Expectations gap

ASIC was the subject of widespread criticism in 2014 from a broad range of instigators on many areas under the regulator’s control. For example, its deficient powers in relation to protecting whistle-blowers and its failures to properly address issues of fraud, forgery and allegations of a cover-up inside the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning arm, Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited.

Perhaps in an attempt to defend itself, ASIC uses the last page of the Outlook to address the ‘mismatched expectations about the outcomes’ it can achieve ‘within the regulatory settings established by Parliament’. Declaring that it ‘cannot eliminate market risk, prevent all wrongdoing or ensure compensation for investors who lose money’ ASIC attempts to clarify the ‘expectations gap’ that consumers and businesses might have about its authority and regulatory reach, especially in light of the extensive negative publicity it has received.

After all, as ASIC itself points out, it is subject to controls from the Federal Government and its ‘role or powers to address wrongdoing are limited, such as when an appropriate remedy is not available’.

Financial Services Update: Positive news from the Financial Ombudsman Service

In this edition:

  • the Financial Ombudsman Service records a decline in financial disputes;
  • AUSTRAC seeks feedback on AML/CTF compliance reporting regime; and
  • AUSTRAC extends suspension of remittance provider due to terrorist risk.

Financial Ombudsman Service records a decline in financial disputes

Under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), if you are the holder of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) servicing retail clients, you must be a member of an ASIC-approved External Dispute Resolution (EDR) scheme. The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is a product of this need, and is a ‘one-stop shop’ for many consumers to have their complaints dealt with.

The 2013-2014 Annual Review of the FOS has shown that, overall, disputes in the financial services sector are decreasing. The FOS believes that this is because:

  • financial service providers have improved their handling of financial hardship requests; and
  • there is an awareness of, and increase in the prevalence of cover for flood in insurance policies.

The Annual Review

The Annual Review provides some key statistics which gives an insight into the operation of the financial services industry.

Credit disputes

  • 50% (12,605) of all disputes accepted by the FOS were related to credit;
  • 89% of these disputes related to consumer credit (the remainder were made up of disputes in business finance, guarantees, margin loans and other); and
  • 41% of credit disputes related to financial hardship.

Investment disputes

  • 1,174 investment disputes were accepted, a decrease of 3% from 2013-2014;
  • most related to managed investments; and
  • the FOS believes that the number of disputes is returning to a lower level from a spike created by the Global Financial Crisis.

Financial difficulty disputes

  • 4,705 disputes relating to financial difficulty were accepted, a 9% reduction from 2013-2014;
  • 99% of these were related to credit; and
  • the FOS believes that the reduction in such disputes is related to improvements in Financial Services Providers managing hardship requests and consistently low interest rates.

Code Compliance and Monitoring

In addition to its functions of resolving disputes, the FOS also continues to monitor the compliance of members with the various Codes of Practice, namely:

  • Code of Banking Practice;
  • Customer Owned Banking Code of Practice;
  • General Insurance Code of Practice; and
  • Customer Owned Banking Code of Practice.

This monitoring is not insignificant. In one case, a failure to follow the Code of Banking Practice lead to a decision by the FOS to release a guarantor from an obligation to repay the remainder of a $627,000 loan.

The FOS will continue to aim for efficient and effective dispute resolution under its 2012-2015 strategic plan.

AUSTRAC seeks feedback on AML/CTF compliance reporting regime

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has issued a Consultation Paper on proposed changes to the annual compliance reporting process under section 47 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth) (AML/CTF Act). 

The annual compliance report (ACR) is a key tool for AUSTRAC to obtain information to analyse and input into its risk-based approach to supervision. AUSTRAC commenced a review of its compliance reporting framework in 2012 and according to the Paper, this review identified a need for change to the ACR to reflect the maturity of the AML/CTF regime and facilitate improved regulatory supervision.

Issues with the current ACR

The Paper lists several key problems with the current ACR, including the:

  • increasing irrelevance of the questions;
  • regulatory burden is disproportionate to the level of money-laundering/terrorism-financing (ML/TF) risk exposure; and
  • lack of value to reporting entities (REs).

According to AUSTRAC, many of these problems are because the current ACR was designed at the time of the implementation of the AML/CTF regulatory regime as a census tool to gather reporting entity data and help industry understand their obligations.

Proposed changes

Now that the AML/CTF regime is well-established, AUSTRAC is proposing the following changes to the ACR:

  • an enhanced compliance report (ECR) that would be completed by reporting entities in both the higher and medium-risk categories; and
  • an annual return (AR) for REs that represent a higher level of ML/TF risk.
  • The AR will require a reporting entity to provide a comprehensive report on its business environment, ML/TF risk and the effectiveness of its AML/CTF program.

The ECR is similar in structure and format to the existing compliance report. The questions reflect the maturation of the AML/CTF environment and reporting entities’ increased familiarity and understanding of their obligations under the AML/CTF Act. The information collected in the ECR is aimed at helping AUSTRAC better understand levels of ML/TF risk and the effectiveness of a reporting entity’s compliance approach.

Which entities are affected by the changes?

AUSTRAC sets out criteria for who will be required to lodge an AR and ECR. A reporting entity must lodge an AR and an ECR if it is:

  • part of a corporate group (where a corporate group is defined by reference to section 50 of the Corporations Act 2001) that has finalised group annual earnings of $100 million or more (as at 1 July of the compliance report period),
  • not part of a group and has total annual earnings of $100 million or more (as at 1 July of the compliance report period),
  • part of a corporate group that has provided 25 million or more transaction reports or provided transaction reports with a total value of $5 billion or more (in the calendar year prior to the compliance report period), or
  • not part of a group and has provided 25 million or more transaction reports or provided transaction reports with a total value of $5 billion or more (in the calendar year prior to the compliance report period).

A reporting entity must lodge an ECR only where it is not in one of the segments described above.

Certain entities will be exempted from lodging either an AR or an ECR, including those entities that are exempt from the AML/CTF programs under Part 7 of the AML/CTF Act.

Public consultation period

AUSTRAC is seeking feedback from reporting entities that may be affected by the proposed changes on the challenges, impacts and benefits of AUSTRAC’s preferred regulatory option. The closing date for submissions is 31 October 2014.

A Regulatory Impact Statement explaining the proposed changes in more detail is also available on the AUSTRAC website.

2014 Compliance Reports

In the meantime, it may be timely to start planning your 2015 Compliance Report, which is due for submission in Qtr 1 next year for the period 1 January 2014 – 31 December 2014. As part of this annual compliance report REs are still required to attest whether an Independent Review of the RE’s AML/CTF Program was undertaken by either an internal or external party.

An external Independent Review is a good way of seeking assurance that your AML/CTF Program is compliant with the AML/CTF Act as well as the ever expanding AML/CTF Rules – now up to Chapter 70. It may also be a good opportunity to undertake a wider review of your compliance with the comprehensive new Customer Due Diligence (CDD) requirements which were introduced in June this year.

CompliSpace undertakes numerous Independent Reviews each year, providing REs with practical advice and recommendations across an increasingly complex area. The cost of completing an Independent Review of your AML/CTF Program will depend on the size, nature and complexity of your business. Please contact us to request a detailed proposal, or if you have any questions in relation to the compliance reporting process

AUSTRAC extends suspension of remittance provider due to terrorist risk

It has been impossible to ignore the recent anti-terrorism measures undertaken by the Australian Government since the National Terrorism Public Alert Level was raised to High on 12 September 2014. The anti-terror raids carried out in Sydney and Brisbane on 18 September signified the reality of threats to national security that may exist internally.

At the same time, AUSTRAC acted to prevent alleged threats to national security in the form of funds being sent overseas for terrorism financing. On 17 September AUSTRAC:

  • suspended Bisotel Rieh Pty Ltd (Bisotel), a Lakemba money-transfer business, from the Remittance Sector Registrar (RSR); and
  •  issued Bisotel with a notice of commencement to cancel its registration (Cancellation Notice). 
       
    Bisotel’s suspension has since been extended twice, with the latest extension period due to expire on 10 November 2014.

Under section 75G of the AML/CTF Act, AUSTRAC has the power to cancel an entity’s RSR registration if the AUSTRAC CEO is satisfied that it is ‘appropriate to do so’, having regard to various factors, including whether the continued registration of the entity involves, or may involve, terrorism financing.

AUSTRAC relied upon listed certain facts and circumstances to support its decision to issue the Cancellation Notice, including that Bisotel:

  • arranged for bulk cash to be smuggled from Turkey into Lebanon;
  • routinely failed to provide the full beneficiary details in international funds transfer instruction that are sent to high risk jurisdictions, including Lebanon; and
  • can’t explain a $9 million discrepancy between reports that it filed showing it had sent $12.3 million overseas and reports that other entities filed with AUSTRAC showing that Bisotel (as the ordering customer) had actually sent $21.3 million.

The extended suspension period means that up until 10 November, Bisotel will have been unable to provide remittance services for around 55 days. If Bisotel provides a remittance service during its suspension, it and its officers could face criminal or financial penalties, or both.

What does this mean for your business?

Bisotel’s case is unique in that, on the surface, its operations seem to have been designed to service illegitimate aims, including by sending funds to high-risk overseas jurisdictions. However many financial services entities send funds overseas for legitimate purposes e.g. not-for-profits supporting an overseas charity.

So although the Bisotel case can be distinguished from the significant volume of legitimate transactions that occur everyday, it nevertheless provides a good reminder to AML/CTF entities to review their systems and controls to ensure they are compliant with the Customer Due Diligence obligations under the AML/CTF Act (see our previous blogs), which, along with other laws, are part of a comprehensive legal framework designed to strengthen Australia’s financial system against money laundering and terrorism financing.

How CompliSpace can help
Australian Financial Services Licence holders are inundated with a raft of corporate governance obligations and an ever-growing compliance burden, that can distract focus away from core business activities.

CompliSpace provides industry-specific policies, programs and procedures to ease the burden of compliance.

Our compliance and corporate governance solutions include Whistleblower, AFSL, AML/CTF and other industry-specific compliance programs.

Contact Details
P: 1300 132 090
E: contactus@complispace.com.au
W: http://www.complispace.com.au

This blog is a guide to keep readers updated with the latest information. It is not intended as legal advice or as advice that should be relied on by readers. The information contained in this blog may have been updated since its posting, or it may not apply in all circumstances. If you require specific or legal advice, please contact us on 1300 132 090 and we will be happy to assist.

 

26 September 2014: Workplace Relations Update for Executives On-the-Go

In this edition, two important court decisions highlight the importance of clearly written employment agreements:

  • in CBA v Barker, the High Court finds no duty of trust and confidence in employment contracts, and affirms when policies do and don’t become a part of the employment contract; and
  • in Heugh v Central Petroleum Ltd, a CEO is entitled to compensation as its employer had not acted ‘reasonably’.

CBA v Barker: Managing company policy and employment contracts

Commonwealth Bank of Australia v Barker [2014] HCA 32

A recent High Court decision held that a ‘mutual duty of trust and confidence’ should not be implied into contracts of employment in Australia. This decision also confirms that a company’s policies do not become a part of the employment contract unless they are implied by necessity, or it is expressly stated, creating greater certainty for employers

The case

Stephen Barker was employed at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) for over 27 years. In 2009, CBA informed Mr Barker that it had decided to make his position redundant. Mr Barker’s employment contract (Contract) provided for compensation to be paid to Mr Barker if CBA could not redeploy him. CBA was unable to do so and on 9 April 2009 his employment was terminated, with compensation of $182,092.16.

He then sued, alleging that:

  • CBA breached an implied term of the Contract, being a duty of trust and confidence, by failing to properly follow the Redeployment Policy to find him a new position; and
  • that his Contract incorporated the CBA Redeployment Policy and the CBA Equal Employment Opportunity Policy.

Mr Barker succeeded in his trial, and in the subsequent appeal, but lost in the High Court. However, CBA undertook not to recover legal costs from him.

The findings of the High Court

The issue for the High Court was: is a term of mutual trust and confidence to be implied into all contracts of employment in Australia?

The High Court unanimously said no, and found in favour of CBA.  CBA therefore did not breach the Contract by failing to take extra steps in connection with redeploying Mr Barker at the bank.

Implications for employers

Mr Barker’s case is significant for employers.

First, the fact that an implied mutual duty of trust and confidence does not exist creates greater certainty for employers.  A term that states that an employer will not ‘without reasonable cause, conduct itself in a manner likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence’ is not to be implied into a contract.

Second, the terms of an employment contract are now more certain. Policies will only be included in an employment agreement, requiring the parties to abide by them, if it is expressly stated as such, or if a court finds it is necessary to imply them.

Third, an employer does not have the additional obligations of maintaining trust and confidence when dealing with employees in circumstances of dismissal or redundancy. However, existing employment laws will continue to apply in the context of a termination of employment, such as unfair dismissal laws, adverse action protections, express contractual provisions and provisions in Modern Awards relating to termination and redundancy. Employers should continue to carefully observe them in the context of all employment arrangements.

Some practical tips

In designing policy and drafting contracts of employment, there are some practical and simple steps that an employer can take.

Depending on their objectives, employers can:

  • expressly exclude policies from the employment contract; or
  • for flexibility in their favour, draft provisions requiring employees to abide by policies and procedures, but retain flexibility in their favour by stating that employers are not, and that the employer has the discretion to deviate from them.

It is also significant that Mr Barker’s contract contained a clause outlining what would happen in the event of a redundancy. Importantly, this clause has the effect of limiting the payout to be made in the event of redundancy, because it is an agreement as to how compensation will be calculated in that event. Had redundancy occurred without such a clause, it would have been up to the Court to determine what amount should be awarded. Given that Mr Barker was claiming amounts in the order of $1.83 million, this amount could have been quite significant.

Conclusion

This case confirms the current legal landscape of employment law; an employer does not have to maintain a duty of trust and confidence.

However, existing unfair dismissal and adverse action laws continue to apply. The High Court found no need to disturb the current landscape of employment law, given that the law already provides for a comprehensive regime of unfair dismissal and industrial relations laws.

When drafting employment contracts, employers should think carefully about whether policies should be incorporated into the contract or not. This case makes clear the effect of contracting in or contracting out of policies, allowing employers and employees a higher degree of certainty.

CEO awarded $1.6 million payout

In another case (Heugh v Central Petroleum Ltd (no 5) [2014] WASC 311) which deals with employment contracts rather than legislation, the former chief executive of ASX listed mining company Central Petroleum Ltd (CP), Mr John Heugh, was awarded $1.6 million in damages and interest by the Supreme Court of Western Australia for being terminated in breach of his employment contract. Mr Heugh’s salary took him outside the application of the unfair dismissal provisions (a salary threshold of $133,000 from 1 July 2014) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act).

Background

John Heugh was employed by CP as managing director. His duties included investigating and negotiating farmout agreements (a type of commercial agreement with a third party, which CP used for fundraising). The CP Board passed a resolution that the CP exploration manager Trevor Shortt, should be responsible for running a farmout process for CP. Mr Heugh did not agree with this decision and it was his opinion that Mr Shortt was not qualified to run such a process and didn’t have the necessary time or resources.

Mr Heugh’s actions

Following the Board resolution Mr Heugh tried to prevent Mr Shortt from taking up the farmout responsibilities. Mr Heugh:

  • met with Mr Shortt in person and told him he was not happy about the Board’s decision;
  • sent Mr Shortt an email stating that he didn’t believe that Mr Shortt had the skills required for the farmout role;
  • attached a ‘warning letter’ to the email (the first step in a disciplinary process to manage unsatisfactory performance), which was designed to show the Board that Mr Shortt had problems performing his current job, so should not be given additional responsibilities. Mr Heugh then explained the purpose of the warning to Mr Shortt and indicated that the warning would be forgotten if the Board resolution was not actioned; and
  • sent another email with an attached ‘farmout responsibility letter’ which informed Mr Shortt of the Board’s decision and asked whether he wanted to take on the additional responsibilities.

The Board’s reaction

The Board did not take kindly to what it saw as Mr Heugh undermining its decision, as well as putting unacceptable pressure on Mr Shortt with the performance warning, which they perceived as a breach of the CP Code of Conduct.

The Board wrote Mr Heugh a letter giving him notice that he had breached his employment contract and needed to remedy the situation by:

  • writing to Mr Shortt with an apology for the unacceptable pressure placed on him;
  • unconditionally withdrawing of the letter of warning;
  • expunging the letter of warning from Mr Shortt’s file; and
  • signing a written assurance to the effect that Mt Heugh would fully comply with, and not undermine, decisions of the Board.

Presumably to ensure that there were no further deviations, the Board provided template documents including a letter of apology, for Mr Heugh to send to Mr Shortt, and the written assurance to the Board. While Mr Heugh did apologise and perform the acts required by the Board, he did not follow the templates exactly.

Termination

In response, the Board resolved to remove Mr Heugh as director, and to terminate his contract of employment if he did not resign. Mr Heugh was sent a termination letter from CP stating that his employment was terminated because he had not:

  • remedied the breaches of his contract as required by the Board (in particular, he had not provided a letter of apology in the form required by the Board); and
  • continued to deny any wrongdoing.

Mr Heugh’s Contract of Employment

Mr Heugh’s contract of employment was unusual in that his employment could only be terminated for a serious breach of the provisions of the contract if the breach was not remedied within 14 days of a notice specifying the breach.

The judge held that the company’s discretion to terminate Mr Heugh’s employment had to be ‘reasonable’. Looking at the circumstances, the judge found that CP had not exercised this discretion reasonably because in his opinion Mr Heugh had remedied the breaches to the extent that was reasonable, and that the Board’s requirement that Mr Heugh had to follow the express wording of the documents to remedy the breach was not reasonable.

The judge also took into account that Mr Heugh was a long serving managing director and that the company had no complaints about his conduct of performance prior to the issues arising from the farmout resolution.

Lessons from the case

There are lessons to be taken away from this case for both employers and employees. Many ASX listed companies will have employees with salaries in excess of the cap on unfair dismissal claims ($133,000) meaning that they are excluded from the unfair dismissal regime under the Act. The alternative avenues available to such employees who want to challenge a dismissal will include the general protections provisions of the Act (for unfair, unlawful and discriminatory treatment in the workplace), anti-discrimination laws, and common law for breach of contract claims – as relied upon by Mr Heugh.

The importance of having clear and comprehensive contractual terms around breaches of contract and termination rights cannot be overstated. In this case having provisions which provide for discretion in determining whether a breach has been remedied does not mean that it is an unqualified discretion. There is always the risk that a court may interpret what is ‘reasonable’ quite differently to an employer dealing with a frustrating employee.

Contractual negotiations between a prospective employee and the employer may involve negotiation around termination rights and benefits and a balance will need to be struck between their competing priorities.  As illustrated here, given the amount of potential damages at stake, it is critical to obtain good legal advice in developing and finalising employment contracts for senior executives.

Australia’s protections for whistleblowers are lacking

The release of a report from Melbourne and Griffith Universities has revealed that Australia’s private sector whistleblowing protection laws are amongst the weakest amongst G20 nations.

The report entitled Whistleblower Protection Laws in G20 Countries – Priorities for Action (Report) includes the results of independent research conducted by international experts. It assesses the success of the G20 nations’ 2010 and 2012 commitments to improve protection for whistleblowers by putting adequate measures in place ‘to provide them with safe, reliable avenues to report fraud, corruption and other wrongdoing’. The Report states that, on the whole, ‘much remains to be done to meet this important goal’.

The Report has been released in the lead-up to an Anti-Corruption Working Group meeting in Paris in October and the G20 Leaders’ Summit being held in Brisbane in November. Its timing might precipitate action by local government and regulators before the Summit to improve Australia’s progress in implementing its anti-corruption commitments to the rest of the G20.

Benefits of whistleblowing

The G20 commitment to protect whistleblowers was first endorsed in Seoul in 2010 with an Anti-Corruption Action Plan for its members to enact and implement whistleblower protection rules by the end of 2012. The timing of this anti-corruption mandate was later extended until November 2014. The Report acknowledges the G20’s recognition in 2010 of ‘the crucial value of “insiders” to government and companies as a first, and often best, early warning system for the types of poor financial practice, corruption and regulatory failure now proven as critical risks to the global economy’. Whistleblowing has ‘grown in importance’ since 2010 as both:

  • a corporate governance and regulator tool; and
  • a protection for the rights and interests of citizens and communities across diverse economies.

According to the Report, whistleblowing is now considered to be ‘among the most effective, if not the most effective means to expose and remedy corruption, fraud and other types of wrongdoing in the public and private sectors’.

It is somewhat concerning then that the whistleblower frameworks of most G20 countries still fall measurably short of those they pledged to achieve by now.

How did Australia perform?

The Report measured each G20 member’s whistleblower regime against 14 ‘Best Practice Criteria’ in both the public and private sectors. Australia has ‘fairly comprehensive’ protection rules in place for the public sector for example, the new legislative regime introduced under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Cth). The level of protection for public officials who disclose information about wrongdoing makes Australia one of the leading G20 countries in this sector, along with the US, Canada and Korea. However, Australia’s legislative protections for the private sector are ‘considerably weaker’.

The primary source of protection for whistleblowers in the private sector is the whistleblowing regime under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act). However this regime is not without its faults. The Report lists the following issues with the current Corporations Act regime:

  • the scope of wrongdoing covered is ill-defined;
  • anonymous complaints are not protected;
  • there are no requirements for internal company procedures;
  • compensation rights are ill-defined; and
  • there is no oversight agency responsible for whistleblower protection.

None of the above criticisms will be new to ASIC, the regulator responsible for the administration of the Corporations Act whistleblowing regime. The Report highlights one of the key issues with the current whistleblowing structure, being that ASIC is not technically ‘responsible’ for whistleblower protection as it is not obliged to take up a whistleblower’s cause and protect them from victimisation.

In our previous blog about an unfair dismissal case lodged by a former employee of Pepperstone Financial relating to his tip-off to ASIC about alleged insider trading activity between employees of the Australian Bureau of Statistics and National Australia Bank, we referred to The Senate Economics Committee’s (Committee) report on ASIC’s performance. That report acknowledged the importance of encouraging whistleblowers and the need for legislative reform. The report also included a scathing critcism of ASIC’s approach to whistleblowing.

The Pepperstone example highlights some of the failures which the Report discusses. In particular, the requirement for a whistleblower to unilaterally enforce their rights for protection and reinstatement or compensation if they believe that they have been victimised as a result of their disclosure.

Common failures

The Report’s analysis reveals that there are three common areas of greatest challenge for G20 countries to address in their whistleblower protection laws. These highlight the need for clear rules:

  1. for when whistleblowing to the media or other third parties is justified or necessitated by the circumstances;
  2. that encourage whistleblowing by ensuring that anonymous disclosures can be made, and will be protected; and
  3. for defining the internal disclosure procedures that can assist organisations to manage whistleblowing, rectify wrongdoing and prevent costly disputes, reputational damage and liability, in the manner best suited to their needs.

According to the Report, the role of the G20 in addressing these challenges is clear. The G20 countries have a special responsibility to build sustainability into financial systems and practices due to their significant role in shaping them.

What’s next?

Despite the failure of many G20 countries to implement sufficient whistleblower protections before the 2014 deadline, this delay might have unintended benefits for those lagging behind. The Report points out that although the US has the most comprehensive whistleblower protections, they are ‘notorious for multiplicity, inefficiency and fragmentation’. Other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Italy who have not yet moved comprehensively to implement whistleblower protection can thus learn from these mistakes when developing their own protection regimes.

In the meantime, the importance of private organisations having their own internal whistleblower systems in place cannot be underestimated. Employees are more likely to report misconduct, fraud and corruption, if they are confident that they will be protected.

While the latest geopoliticial developments may pose a distraction for some G20 members who might otherwise be intending to improve their whistleblower protections before the meeting in Brisbane, Australian organisations don’t have to wait for the government to take steps to better protect themselves and those who report corrupt practices. Australian Standard AS 8004:2003 Whistleblower Protection Programs for Entities provides a governance framework which will assist the implementation of appropriate procedures in organisations – meaning the private sector can take its own action to improve protection for whistleblowers.

 

How can CompliSpace help?

CompliSpace has a range of Governance, Risk and Compliance policies and products to help organisations implement an effective whistleblowing policy that works.

CompliSpace’s comprehensive range of cost effective human resources policies, procedures, training and testing modules, ensure that managers and staff know what is expected of them and have key tools and information at their fingertips at all times. This enables a business to meet its workplace relations obligations while building a positive corporate culture, capturing knowledge and saving time. For more information, contact us on the details below:

P: +61 (2) 9299 6105 (Sydney) / +61 (8) 9288 1826 (Perth)

E:  contactus@complispace.com.au

W: www.complispace.com.au

A New Global Standard for Compliance: ISO 19600

ISO 19600 Compliance management systems (ISO 19600), a new International Standard for compliance, is currently being finalised, having been under development for some time.

This standard was developed by Project Committee 271, whose secretariat is based in the offices of Standards Australia. Eleven countries are participating in the project and most of the drafting has been done by an Australian drafting committee.

Due for publication by the end of 2014 (the final draft is still subject to negotiation), the new standard will:

  • update and enhance the existing Australian Standard, AS3806:2006 Compliance programs (AS 3806);
  • introduce an international, cross-jurisdictional standard to measure compliance; and
  • provide an international benchmark for compliance systems.

AS 3806

ISO 19600 is based on AS 3806, a Standard developed in Australia which promotes a leading system of compliance management. AS 3806 was originally created in 1998 following a request from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). It was updated in 2006 and adopts a ‘principles approach’ to compliance, based on four key aspects of compliance being:

  • commitment;
  • implementation;
  • monitoring and measuring; and
  • continual improvement.

The AS 3806 standard is well respected and is referenced by numerous Australian regulators including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the ACCC. It is also referenced in the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations.

Why a new standard?

In the global regulatory environment, the law shapes many duties and obligations. In some highly regulated industries, a compliance program is a mandated part of a organisation’s obligations. For example, in Australia, Regulatory Guide 104 obliges Australian Financial Services Licence holders to implement a compliance program.

As the regulatory environment changes, leading to new and challenging influences on an entity, its compliance framework should be flexible enough to adapt to these changes.

Although Australia has had a version of a compliance standard in AS 3806 since 1996, ISO 19600 is the first international standard on this topic. According to Standards Australia, the standard has been designed to ultimately increase market confidence, increase consumer confidence and improve outcomes for government, consumers and investors.

Standards Australia’s policy is to recommend local adoption of international standards where possible so AS 3806 is likely to be replaced by ISO 19600 once it’s been finalised.

A defence against court actions?

ISO 19600 states that ‘in a number of jurisdictions, the courts have considered an organisation’s commitment to compliance through its compliance management system when determining the appropriate penalty to be imposed for contravention of relevant laws’. According to the Governance Risk and Compliance Institute, this position suggests that if companies use ISO 19600 to benchmark their compliance framework against international best practice, the framework could be used to mitigate any potential penalties handed down by regulators or the courts.

Whether this is true remains to be seen but in some cases it is clear that, at the very least, having in place a compliance management system will allow an organisation to demonstrate compliance to regulators or the courts.

Given the ‘compliance’ gap that has existed to date internationally, the new standard is important as it has the potential to be adopted by regulators internationally as the accepted benchmark for making out due diligence defences, and ultimately for the assessment of adequacy of organisational efforts in the context of breaches or control failures.

AS 3806 vs ISO 19600

According to an article by leading Australian law firm Clayton Utz, five ‘key enhancements’ will be incorporated into ISO 19600 being:

  1. The relationship between compliance and governance, risk, audit, legal, environment and health and safety will need to be set out.
  2. The scope of the compliance management system will need to be determined. i.e., whether contractual obligations will be included with statutes and other such duties.
  3. An improvement to the link between risk and compliance, so that controls for these risks and compliance work together.
  4. Compliance will be able to be demonstrated, and reported up to management and the board.
  5. Steps will be taken to have a healthy culture of compliance and compliance behaviours.

Randal Dennings, a Clayton Utz Partner who represents the Law Council of Australia on the Project Committee, writes with Wei-Loong Chen (a Clayton Utz Special Counsel) that ‘organisations who clearly meet the existing requirements of AS3806 should need to do little to meet the requirements of the international standard’.

According to the GRC Institute, ISO 19600 will also improve on AS 3806 by putting a greater emphasis on a risk-based approach to compliance.

ISO 31000 & ISO 19600

As many readers will be aware Australia also leads the way in the development of the International Risk Management Standard (ISO 31000 – 2009) which was based on the original Australian Risk Management Standard (AS/NZ 4360 – 2004).

At CompliSpace we often say that ‘whilst a compliance program can live without a risk management program, a risk management program can’t live without a compliance program’. It is therefore pleasing to see that Australia is once again leading the way with the development of this critical international governance standard.

Financial Services Update: Over 6,000 Submissions Received by Financial System Inquiry

In this edition:

  • ASIC seeks feedback on extending relief to registered schemes; and
  • over 6,000 submissions received by Financial System Inquiry.

ASIC seeks feedback on extending relief to registered schemes

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has released Consultation Paper 223 (CP) seeking feedback on its updated version of Regulatory Guide 174 entitled ‘Relief for externally administered companies and registered schemes being wound up’ (RG 174). A draft updated RG 174 has also been released.

As its title suggests, the CP considers changes to the current legislative framework provided by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) and Class Order 03/392 (Class Order) governing how companies in external administration can seek relief from ASIC to defer, or have a full exemption from, meeting their financial reporting obligations and/or their obligation to hold an annual general meeting.

Of more interest to us is how ASIC proposes to extend the scope of their existing relief scheme to registered managed investment schemes that have become insolvent and are in the process of being wound up.  The current version of RG 174, reflecting the current Class Order, is silent on this topic.  ASIC is seeking feedback on its proposal to introduce a new class order to provide an exemption for registered schemes (that are being wound up) from meeting their financial reporting obligations under the Corporations Act where:

    • the scheme is insolvent (i.e. scheme property is insufficient to meet the scheme liabilities to scheme creditors as they fall due);
    • the value of net assets of the scheme is no more than $5,000 throughout the relevant financial year; and
    • ASIC has been formally notified of the commencement of the winding-up of the scheme.

If the above circumstances are met, ASIC will not take action against the responsible entity and its officers, or any court-appointed person responsible for winding up the scheme for their failure to comply with the scheme constitution provisions requiring a final audit of the financial statements to be undertaken as a consequence of the winding-up.

ASIC’s justification for allowing exemptions to apply to insolvent schemes reflects the same reasoning for the current regime that applies to companies. The reasoning is that the time, human resources and financial constraints involved in complying with financial reporting obligations ultimately create an unreasonable burden for the scheme members and creditors, especially where it is likely that there will be little or no return to members.

Other proposed relief initiatives relevant to a registered scheme are options to seek:

  • deferral of its financial reporting obligations where it’s being wound up for a maximum period of 12 months (previously, only externally administered companies could defer their reporting obligations and only for a period of 6 months); and
  • deferral of its financial reporting obligations where the responsible entity, not the scheme, is being externally administered (subject to the responsible entity demonstrating that the appointment of the external administrator had ‘significantly’ disrupted its management of the scheme).  The registered scheme does not have to be wound-up in this case.

If a registered scheme is granted a deferral from its financial reporting obligations, then ASIC makes it clear that (subject to exemptions) it will generally not relieve the responsible entity from its obligation to obtain a compliance plan audit report. If the future of the registered scheme is unclear, the completed audit report will at least provide some useful information for interested parties about the status of its affairs.

The CP also proposes to resolve some ambiguity around whether the Class Order relief applies to a company that is also an Australian Financial Services Licensee (AFSL).  According to ASIC, companies that hold an AFS Licence should not be eligible for the financial reporting exemptions, given that the fundamental obligation of an AFSL is to be able to meet all financial requirements at all times, including debt obligations. Because this is the primary duty of an AFSL, they should apply for cancellation of their AFSL rather than relief.

Comments on the updated RG 174 are due by 20 October 2014.

Over 6,000 submissions received by Financial System Inquiry

The deadline for public submissions in response to the Interim Report released by the Financial System Inquiry (Inquiry) in July closed on 26 August 2014.  On 5 September 2014 the Inquiry announced that it had received over 6,300 submissions in response to the issues set out in the Interim Report.  Over 5,000 submissions, or 79%, were received on the issue of ‘credit card surcharges’.   We previously wrote a blog on the key observations made in the Interim Report and it’s clear from the reaction that the Interim Report has created that the Inquiry’s final report will be highly anticipated.

Although the list of authors of the submissions published on the Inquiry’s website reads like a who’s who of the Australian financial services industry, significantly, a large bulk of submissions are from individual members of the public. These concerned individuals remind us that credit card charges, superannuation and adequate banking regulation is an issue that affects a large body of retail consumers, not just professional service firms and institutional investors.

The final report is due by November 2014.

As we’ve seen over the past few months, the issues identified in the Interim Report are only some of the major concerns affecting the financial services industry in Australia at the moment.  With revelations of compliance issues at Macquarie Private Wealth as well as the notorious problems at Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning arm, we are primed to wonder ‘what (or who) is next?’. What is certain however, is that the profession of financial planning and advice will come under close scrutiny. The question of just how troubled and fraught this industry is remains to be answered.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, recent comments by the Commonwealth Bank conceding that ‘general’ financial advice should in fact be renamed ‘sales’, reveals just how misleading this sector of the industry is. The Commonwealth Bank basically admits that its ‘planners’ are in fact more like salespersons, flogging their wares to unsuspecting superannuants and retirees, rather than acting to uphold their trust and confidence.

The inherent dangers of this misleading approach have recently been aired in the debate accompanying the Federal Government’s Future of Financial Advice changes. The clear conflict of interest apparent from selling incentivised products, rather than giving advice to individual investors seems to be a lesson not yet learnt.

The Interim Report highlighted the area of financial advice as a key area for review and its clear from recent events that reform is crucial in this area.  Given the sheer number of responses it has received, it remains to be seen whether or not the Inquiry will be able to deliver its recommendations by the November deadline, or even by the end of 2014. In a one step forward, two steps back manoeuvre, it will be interesting to see how the Government reacts to any recommendations of the Inquiry requiring increased regulation and scrutiny in the industry, given their ‘reducing red tape’ mantra.

Stay tuned for our response once the final report is released.

1 September 2014: Workplace Relations Update for Executives On-the-go

In this edition:

  • Qantas grounded by poor policy management;
  • Two cases illustrating the changing landscape of sexual harassment claims; and
  • WA harmonisation of WHS laws is getting closer.

Qantas brought down by poor policy management

A recent case before the Fair Work Commission (Commission) provides yet another example of a company’s decision to dismiss an employee has been overturned for being unfair. In the case of Qantas and two flight attendants (Albert Chew v Qantas Airways Limited; Margaret Leong v Qantas Airways Limited [2014] FWC 4885), the poor management of policy and poor record keeping practices factored into the Commission’s decision to reverse Qantas’ decision and reinstate the employees.

Two flight attendants

Albert Chew and Margaret Leong worked for Qantas Airways Limited (Qantas) as flight attendants. They held senior positions. Mr Chew was a Customer Service Supervisor and had worked for Qantas for over 26 years without a blemish on his record. Ms Leong worked for Qantas for over 20 years. Both had Qantas Cabcharge cards.

On 15 trips to and from the airport the pair, who lived near each other, allowed the driver of the hire car to charge the same fare twice, rather than charging a single fare. Because of this conduct, they were fired. They appealed Qantas’s decisions to the Commission, which ordered their reinstatement. The decision gives some important lessons for employers who issue Cabcharge and other charge cards as part of their business.

An Impotent Policy

Qantas had a Cabcharge policy in place. In fact, it explicitly stated that only cabs were to be used, not hire car services and that only one Cabcharge was allowed to be used (per the relevant Passenger Transport Act). Ultimately however, the mere existence of that policy was not enough to protect Qantas. In their claims, the flight attendants stated that:

  • they had no awareness of Qantas policies on the use of hire cars and charge cards;
  • they never signed such a policy; and
  • their behaviour was not fraudulent.

The difficulty for Qantas in this case was that despite the policy being in place, its employees were unaware of its existence or content. Qantas’s defence came undone when the Commission pointed out that:

  • ‘Qantas was unable to produce the signed policies or other records';
  • ‘the evidence was… that it was standard practice for flight attendants to use hire cars/ limousines. This was not contradicted by Qantas'; and
  • ‘there was… no evidence that the applicants had signed or even sighted the [Cabcharge] Policy. Furthermore, there was no evidence of an educational program provided to Flight Attendants on the use of the cards or the travel policy generally’.

In the words of the Commission:

  • ‘I find this somewhat surprising, given the cards were distributed relatively recently in early 2012. Good management practice would have maintained them in the flight attendants’ personnel files'; and
  • ‘Qantas’s procedures for rolling out the cards and ensuring their appropriate use could have been better’.

An Unfair Dismissal. 

The decision to terminate the employment of Mr Chew and Ms Leong was made on the basis of a breach of Qantas’s ‘Standards of Conduct Policy’. The decision was not based solely on the breach of the Cabcharge policy. The Commission went on to remark that Qantas did not base its decision on an allegation that Mr Chew and Ms Leong engaged in fraudulent activity.

When determining whether a dismissal is unfair, the Commission takes into account a wide range of matters. In light of all the factors, it found that the dismissal was unfair, and some other penalty was appropriate. It took into account:

  • Mr Chew and Ms Leong’s long service with Qantas;
  • their apologies and contrition; and
  • the substantial impact of their dismissal in the current state of the airline industry.

A Happy Ending

In the end, the Commission found that ‘there was not a valid reason… for the dismissal of Mr Chew and Ms Leong’. They were reinstated.

They did not get off scot-free however, and did have to suffer the penalty of lost wages between their dismissal and subsequent reinstatement.

The lessons in this case are simple. If you have a policy, you must ensure that it is implemented properly, and it is not just left to languish. Qantas may well have succeeded in this case if it did this. If it ensured that all employees read the policy, understood, and signed it, it may well have made out its case. But more importantly, this entire incident may well never have happened.

Sexual harassment: two landmark cases

Two recent sexual harassment cases decided in the Federal Court send important warnings to employers on the importance of having robust policies and procedures in place to help manage the risks arising from inappropriate workplace behaviour. The cases also emphasis that sexual harassment can take many forms, not just physical conduct.

The Full Federal Court’s appeal decision in Richardson v Oracle Corporation Australia Pty Ltd [2014] FCAFC 82 saw the amount of damages awarded to the victim of sexual harassment increased from $18,000 to $130,000 (damages plus economic loss). The Court had previously held that the complainant, a project manager at Oracle Corporation Australia Pty Ltd, had been harassed by a male co-worker on at least 11 separate occasions in 2008, in private and in front of other employees. The offensive conduct involved a series of slurs and sexual advances. Oracle was found liable for the perpetrator’s conduct as it had failed to show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment. Oracle was originally ordered to pay $18,000 in damages for the distress caused.

The victim appealed the decision, and the Full Court overturned the original amount of damages finding that it was ‘disproportionately low having regard to the loss and damage she suffered’ and that a higher amount was justified due to the nature and extent of her injuries and ‘prevailing community standards’. The higher amount took account of the damage done to the victim’s personal relationship as a result of the sexual harassment.

The significant financial penalty imposed on Oracle is a reminder to all employers of the serious nature of sexual harassment. In this case, the significantly increased penalty was emblematic of the Court’s serious view of sexual harassment and discrimination.  Indeed, the Court made the statement that it was ‘unable to discern any in-principle difference’ between a bullying and harassment case, and a sexual harassment case. It is interesting to note that during Oracle’s internal investigation into the allegations, the perpetrator had written the victim a letter apologising for what he called ‘light-hearted banter’.

The perpetrator’s description of his conduct as ‘light-hearted banter’, and his attempt to trivialise its impact on the victim, demonstrates the extent to which some people are still ignorant of the serious nature of harassment and that one of the essential elements of harassment is that the behaviour is unwelcome.  It also shows that employers should ensure that they provide clear training on what constitutes inappropriate and illegal behaviour in the workplace.

A second landmark decision by the Federal Court in Vergara v Ewin [2014] FCAFC 100 emphasises that workplace sexual harassment can occur both in and outside of the office.

In that case the complainant was a chartered accountant at entertainment company Living and Leisure Australia Limited (LLA). The Court found that on four occasions in May 2009 she was sexually harassed by a casual accountant, Mr Vergara, employed by LLA. The first three incidents occurred over a three-day period and involved mainly spoken words. The behaviour commenced when Mr Vergara turned the lights off in the office the pair shared at the end of the day and told the complainant that he wanted to talk to her. She agreed and they went to a nearby pub where she was propositioned in ‘very explicit and crude terms’. Mr Vergara later tried to kiss her as they walked to a nearby train station. The fourth incident involved sexual intercourse after a work event at the Melbourne Aquarium. Due to being intoxicated at the time, the complainant had no recollection of the fourth incident taking place.

Mr Vergara appealed the Court’s original finding against him that also saw the complainant awarded nearly $500,000 in damages. Mr Vergara challenged the Court’s initial finding that the incidents of sexual harassment had occurred at a ‘workplace’, as that term is defined in the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). In the Act ‘workplace’ is defined to mean ‘a place at which a workplace participant works or otherwise carries out functions in connection with being a workplace participant.’

The Court held that:

  • a workplace ‘may be a fixed or moving location'; and
  • going to the pub was triggered by what had commenced at the office and therefore the function of both locations was that of ‘workplace’

The first three incidents were all examples of sexual harassment, even though some of them occurred outside the office. The fourth incident occurred at the office and was sexual assault. The Court’s decision in this case is important because it stands for the proposition that sexual harassment can occur outside the office, if there is a sufficient work connection. It is also important that employers are alert to the fact that harassment is not confined to actions between employees, but can extend to conduct between an employee and a contractor – as Mr Vergara was in this case.

Both cases are warnings to employers to ensure that they have adequate harassment and dispute resolution policies in place and that their staff are trained to understand those policies and more importantly, what behaviour constitutes sexual harassment and where it can occur.

WA WHS Laws: harmonisation getting closer?

On 12 August the Western Australian (WA) Minister for Commerce, the Hon Michael Mischin MLC announced that a WA version of the model workplace health and safety (WHS) bill would become available as a draft bill for 3 months of public comment. We’ve previously written about how WA is getting closer to harmonising its WHS laws and this latest announcement is a positive sign that the wheels of action are still in motion.

WA and Victoria are currently the only jurisdictions that have not introduced model WHS laws. While Victoria announced last year that it would not be participating in the national format, the WA government has been ever so slowly but, as is apparent now, surely edging towards implementation. The WA government participated in all of the joint talks and negotiations in developing the harmonised health and safety laws with all of the States, Territories and Federal Government, but has put forward a number of reasons and reviews over the last 3 years to explain its extreme caution in proceeding.

The WA delays have been in some part due to concerns that the impact of the new laws on small businesses in WA outweighed the benefits of a harmonised system. This was addressed by the government commissioning a regulatory impact statement (RIS) to look at the impact of the legislation specifically on WA. The RIS was completed in 2012. The WA government was also concerned that national changes to WHS in the mining sector (which has its own safety legislation) should be completed, so that all of the changes could be introduced at one time. The model mining changes were finalised in 2013. In his Parliamentary statement Mr Mischin spun WA’s delayed introduction as a positive in light of the ‘delays and controversy’ which have plagued the progress of the model legislation elsewhere. Watching the other States and Territories introduce their own model WHS laws had allowed WA ‘the opportunity to observe their experience, to measure the costs of any changes that have been implemented and to consider the advantages and disadvantages of their having made them’.

In the most positive sign in the last 12 months, the WA government will be putting out a ‘green bill’ (draft bill for public comment) based on the model WHS laws and reflecting its core provisions. The green bill has not yet been released, but once it is, it will be open to public comment for three months. According to Mr Mischin, the bill is a ‘tailored’ version of the model WHS laws designed to suit the WA environment and ‘refined to reduce red tape and to maintain the compliance burden at an acceptable level’.

The regulatory impact statement (RIS) which had been provided to the government in 2011, has also finally been made available on the WorkSafe WA website.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is currently investigating ways in which the model WHS laws could be improved, with a particular focus on reducing red tape. COAG’s review is due to be completed by the end of 2014. The outcome of COAG’s review, in addition to the WA RIS and the public comments that the WA government anticipates receiving on the WA green bill, will be used as ‘a foundation upon which the government can consider the best WHS regime for Western Australia’.

In the meantime, the WA mining and resources which have their own separate legislation, will also be brought on board. The Minister also announced that it had approved the continued development of the previously foreshadowed Resources Safety Bill to ‘further modernise resources industry regulation’. The new legislation will incorporate elements of the National Mine Safety Framework and the nationally developed model WHS laws. The new Resources Safety Act will initially replace the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA).

Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion said that ‘the best aspects of the model laws will be adopted with those which do not suit the unique Western Australian context amended or removed as necessary’, guided by an intention to ‘place a greater focus on risk management and to be less prescriptive’, with ‘the onus . . . placed on industry to demonstrate they understand hazards and have control measures in place.’ The WA government expects that the resources legislation will be in place by mid-2016.  The public consultation period for the green bill might mean that the introduction and implementation of the model WHS laws takes longer, however one would hope that the timing of the new WHS laws matches that of the resources legislation.

 

How can CompliSpace help?

CompliSpace’s comprehensive range of cost effective human resources policies, procedures, training and testing modules, ensure that managers and staff know what is expected of them and have key tools and information at their fingertips at all times.

This enables a business to meet its workplace relations obligations while building a positive corporate culture, capturing knowledge and saving time. For more information, contact us on the details below:

P: 1300 132 090

E:  contactus@complispace.com.au

W:  www.complispace.com.au

This blog is a guide to keep readers updated with the latest information. It is not intended as legal advice or as advice that should be relied on by readers. The information contained in this blog may have been updated since its posting, or it may not apply in all circumstances. If you require specific or legal advice, please contact us on 1300 132 090 and we will be happy to assist.

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