The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) – the independent statutory body responsible for enforcing compliance with workplace laws and education – has recently published a resource for franchisors providing guidance on their responsibilities and practical steps that they can implement to comply with the ‘reasonable steps’ requirements.
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Our General Manager, David Price, recently attended the Franchise Forum conducted by franchise and employment law experts HWL Ebsworth. The above are all as a result of the Vulnerable Worker laws, imposing liability on franchisors (and holding companies) for breaches by franchisees, subject to a defence by the franchisor that it took ‘reasonable steps’ to avoid the breaches occurring.
Major Changes The new Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 introduced some major changes that affect all employers, not just the franchise sector where underpayment scandals led to the new legislation.
As well as attending the FCA Franchisor convention over the last few days, ER Strategies Director Steve Champion also had the honour of hosting a roundtable discussion around how to respond to the new laws, including how payroll audits can be a part of the reasonable steps franchisors need to take to avoid possible liability for franchisee underpayments.
Vulnerable Worker laws back in Parliament this week. The proposed new legislation was to be debated in the Senate last night, Tuesday, 8 August (we are still trying to determine whether the debate proceeded as planned). Our view is that the mainstream of Franchisors are going to have to take reasonable steps to avoid liability for contravention of employment laws by franchisees.
In the same week that the Federal Budget was released, so was the report of the Senate Inquiry into the proposed new Vulnerable Worker laws, aimed at stopping underpayments in the franchise sector. Things have progressed further, with the Bill having its second reading in the Lower House.
The Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, has been very ‘vocal’ in recent months, making speeches and issuing press releases about the FWO’s approach to prosecuting “accessories” to breaches of employment laws. Here are her top 3 tips for complying with Vulnerable Worker Laws.
Amongst a raft of changes proposed under the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 currently before Federal Parliament, the planned legislation will introduce laws making franchisors and holding companies responsible for underpayments by their franchisees or subsidiaries, where they should have known of the contraventions and where they have failed to take ‘reasonable steps to prevent underpayments.
Following on from our previous article “New Laws Protecting Vulnerable Workers Now Imminent”, the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 was introduced into federal parliament on the 1st March.
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