Cc The C Word

The “C” Word

We know that times are a little testing at the moment and we’re all slightly consumed with COVID-19, but at HR Gurus we think it’s time to talk about the real ‘C word’. And no it’s not what you think.  We are talking about Compliance.🙅‍♀️

We are nearly 5 months into 2020, and yes we are sure you have much to focus on right now but have you really used this time to sense check your compliance within all of the legislative changes that have happened in 2020? Unfortunately, you may have missed them because there have been a few…

Let’s take a quick look at them right now:

Whistleblowing policies

As of 1 January 2020, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 (Cth) – otherwise known as the Whistleblower Act – came into effect. The legislation applies to:

  • Public companies;
  • Large proprietary companies – for example companies that meet at least two of the following criteria:
    • earning $50 million or more in annual consolidated revenue
    • holding $25 million or more in consolidated gross assets
    • having at least 100 employees); and
  • Corporate trustees of a registrable superannuation entity.

The above listed now have an obligation to implement a whistleblower policy that is aligned to the Whistleblower Act and its guidelines. These guidelines stipulate that the policy must include:

  • The protections available to whistleblowers;
  • How and to whom an individual can make a disclosure;
  • How the company will support and protect whistleblowers;
  • How investigations into a disclosure will proceed;
  • How the company will ensure fair treatment of employees who are mentioned in whistleblower disclosures; and
  • How the policy will be made available to its employees and officers

Non-compliance with the Whistleblower Act carries a $12,600 penalty. To do you a solid, we have developed a HR Gurus Whistleblower Policy template, its awesome and you can download it for FREE right here.

Salary Sacrifice and Superannuation requirements

On 1 January 2020, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Tax Integrity and Other Measures No.1) Act 2019 (Cth) – otherwise known as the Superannuation Act – took effect. This Act:

  • Means that employers will now be required to pay super on the gross rate of pay of employees, including on any of their salary that has been sacrificed; and
  • Employers are no longer allowed to use salary sacrifice to make up part or all of their required Superannuation Guarantee contributions.

It’s worth checking with your payroll department to ensure your organisation is adhering to these new requirements!

Annualised Salaries

From 1 March 2020, 22 Awards changed the way that annualised salary arrangements are managed and reported on to ensure employees are financially better off under these arrangements than they would be under the Awards.  The following are the key changes employers need to ensure they have made to be compliant:

  • Record in an annualised wage agreement/arrangement the provisions of the award that are met by the annualised salary, and in some cases, record the method by which the annualised wage has been calculated.
  • Set “outer limits” of overtime for employees. If the employees work over the “outer limits” in a pay cycle, then they need to be paid penalty rates in line with their relevant award.
  • Keep records of time worked and unpaid breaks taken by employees on annualised salary arrangements
  • Implement a process whereby employees sign off on the time they have worked as being accurate each pay cycle
  • Conduct annual reconciliations and when employment terminates to ascertain if employees have been no worse off than what they would have been under their relevant award (Essentially an annual BOOT test)

These changes have really changed the way businesses pay their salaried employees so it’s imperative to make sure you’re across the ins and outs. If not, check out this blog for a more detailed look at the changes: https://www.hrgurus.com.au/annualised-salary-changes. Also we can assist you by calculating whether your employees are better off overall. So reach out if you have any concerns.

Personal Leave Entitlements

Okay, so technically this was a 2019 change but we still encounter so many organisations that have no idea about this!

In mid-2019, the majority of the Full Federal Court handed down a case decision that changes the way the personal/carer’s leave is calculated. Rather than hours, it is now taken in days. Additionally, part-time employees also now get 10 days of personal leave per year, regardless of hours per day or days per week worked.

Traditionally, most payroll systems calculate personal leave accruals in hours rather than days so this could pose some potential issues. A word of warning though before you invest in a fancy new payroll system – this case is currently waiting to be appealed at the High Court so although this is good law today (and needs to be followed as such), this may change in the future. Watch this space!

Workplace Manslaughter

This one is more of a ‘heads up’ and doesn’t come into effect until 1 July 2020. The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) has been amended creating two new offences relating to workplace manslaughter. Workplace manslaughter sounds scary, doesn’t it?! And it should. It is!

The amendments to the Act mean:

A person will be guilty of ‘workplace manslaughter’ if they:

  • Engage in negligent conduct; and
  • That conduct amounts to a breach of an OHS duty owed to another person; and
  • That conduct causes the death of another person

The penalties for breaching these new laws are significant and include a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment for individuals and fines extended beyond $16 million for a body corporate.

Our recommendation to ensure you’re ready for the new OH&S Act is to review your current workplace safety practices, upskill your managers and teams on their safety obligations and take extra precautionary measures to ensure both physical and psychological safety in your organisation.

So, back to my original question – are you currently compliant? If not, feel free to reach out to HR Gurus on info@hrgurus.com.au for further support.

Written by HR Guru & HR Advisor, Maddie Hall.

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