The maximum penalties for any businesses that contravene current record keeping laws and regulations have recently been doubled, and the Fair Work Ombudsman is assisting operators with reducing their risk of facing hefty fines with the recent release of a new online training course. The course is currently available in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Online Learning Centre, which can be found here: www.fairwork.gov.au/learning.
Record Keeping is Obligatory
The Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, stated that the short and interactive course would assist small businesses to understand, why, how and when they will be required to compile employment records. “Every Australian employer is obligated to keep accurate employment records,” she said.
Ms. James continued, “We see far too many cases of businesses failing to get the basics right when it comes to record keeping and regrettably it’s often workers who get hit the hardest as a lack of accurate records can make it difficult to determine if they have received their correct entitlements.” She also stated that while the penalty increase for employers who have not met their record keeping obligations has been welcomed, it is preferred that business operators kept the correct records from the beginning.
This is why the new training course has been released, and it contains pertinent advice regarding how to simplify the record keeping process – especially for smaller businesses.
Handy Course information
In the course, a range of practical examples is featured, along with handy tips and interactive activities. Each of these helps business owners to understand what records they will be required to keep on hand, the type of information that must be recorded on pay slips and provide handy tips to set up a practical record keeping process.
In 2016, just over 65% of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s court cases pertained to alleged pay slip or record keeping breaches. One matter saw a Queensland-based labour hire company and its manager being fined over $84,000 for not adhering to record keeping and pay slip information requirements – despite being previously cautioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Ms. James stated that while she was aware that genuine oversights do sometimes take place, the agency would be coming down extremely hard on anyone who repeatedly flouts the law in this regard. She stated, “With the release of our new materials, there has never been so much freely available information to assist employers to understand their workplace obligations. The time for excuses is over.”
The Fair Work Ombudsman’s Online Learning Centre has seen more than 50,000 visitors since its inception in 2013. It is also part of a variety of free resources and tools that have been provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman specifically for small business owners.
Other courses that are available in the online learning centre include information regarding how to hire and manage employees, having challenging conversations in the workplace and managing performance. All of the courses have been designed with direct input from existing small business owners.
Other resources that are available on the site include templates and fact sheets, including a self-audit checklist for business owners to ensure that all records are readily available and complete. All of this information can be obtained at www.fairwork.gov.au.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has also recently launched a free, “Record my hours” app that makes it easier for employees to record the hours they work. The app can be downloaded from the Apple All and Google play stores.
Business owners and employees are also permitted to seek free assistance and advice on the www.fairwork.gov.au site or they can contact the Fair Work Info line by calling 13 13 94. Small businesses can also choose to receive priority service from the Small Business Helpline.