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How to get workplace law compliant without disrupting your business

There are few times in business that you’ll feel as panicked and concerned as when you face a non-compliance fine. If you’re like almost all businesses, the compliance issue in question was unintentional but you still feel awful about it. You want to do everything you can to rectify the situation and prevent it from happening again, but the real challenge is doing so with minimal disruption to your business, so your bottom line and output isn’t negatively affected.

The good news is, this is entirely possible – it just requires an investment of time, some thorough investigation and good planning.

Here are our five tips for improving compliance with industrial relations laws and Modern Awards with as little disruption as possible.


Tip 1: Understand why you are not compliant

It’s almost impossible to find a sustainable solution to a problem without understanding first why it happened. Putting in place measures without investigation is like putting a band-aid on a wound without checking if the bone underneath is broken.

There are dozens of reasons why non-compliance issues occur, but we recommend checking these first:

  • Are you using manual processes to calculate pay, shift times, breaks, overtime and leave? This is a common reason for non-compliance – manual calculations require accurate and comprehensive interpretation of Modern Awards, and sadly human interpretation can be a little subjective. This is so simple to fix using up-to-date software with the ability to build in Modern Award interpretation and compliance tools that take care of the calculations for you and prevent mistakes from happening in the first place.
  • Are there gaps in your processes – are your workflows watertight? Are you double checking that new hires are on the right agreements and/or awards? Is the correct data flowing through to the payroll engine (or to your managed payroll services provider)? Insufficient processes and little or no checks result in a higher number of human errors.
  • Are your time and attendance tracking processes comprehensive and accurate? Only recording total worked hours isn’t enough. You need to ensure you have a record of start, finish and break times. Keep in mind that paper timesheets can be forged and changed – automated timeclocks are a far better option.
  • Is there a lack of knowledge on the part of managers or HR staff about current industrial relations laws, Modern Awards, employment contracts and agreements? Do they understand how and why they need to adhere to these? A lack of education can lead to assumptions being made, incorrect interpretation of Modern Awards and a breakdown in processes.
  • Do your line managers and HR staff have the time available to be thorough in their work? Heavy workloads encourage staff to rush through tasks and forgo double-checking, increasing the likelihood that errors occur, and poor decisions are made in the interest of saving time.

This can be a time-consuming process, but the information gained during your investigation is crucial in allowing you to set your business up to run compliantly in the long term.

Tip 2: Use the right compliance-enabled software

With the plethora of highly sophisticated software available, there really is no need to undertake any rostering, time and attendance, leave management and payroll tasks manually. Manual calculations and processes like data entry and data transfers leave you wide open to human error, intentional and un-intentional non-compliance. It’s just not worth the risk.

Compliance with Modern Awards and workplace laws isn’t as simple as automating your process and taking them ‘online’. The only way to guarantee compliance is to use a system like Roubler that has in-built compliance controls and a Modern Award Interpretation engine. These tools help you complete tasks compliantly using pre-set functions and notifications – essentially, they prevent you from doing anything silly in the first place.  We like to call it ‘Always on compliance’.

Yes, we know. Implementing a new software system, particularly if it involves consolidating several different systems and processes, does bring with it a certain level of disruption to your business. Yes, you will need to transfer data, install new systems, test the system, complete parallel pay runs and train employees. But if you choose a cloud-based service, and your new provider manages and plans the process correctly with an experienced Customer Success Manager, the disruption will be minimal and the benefits and assured compliance you get in the long run will far outweigh any interruptions to business as usual.

Tip 3: Dedicate time to Modern Awards compliance training

As the old saying goes, “Knowledge is power”. A lack of understanding and skills is a huge contributor to non-compliance issues.

On the face of it, training sounds disruptive and time-consuming. But, if planned and managed properly, it really doesn’t have to be, and you’ll build an in-house pool of compliance experts in the process.

Firstly, set aside a week each year where line managers and staff responsible for HR and payroll can dedicate time to training and updating their skills. They may prefer to take online courses over a period of time or go to face-to-face training.

Where possible, offer employees the opportunity to undertake training relevant to the industry you work in, so they gain specialist knowledge. Many industry associations, like the National Retail Association or Master Builders provide low-cost, industry relevant training to members and can direct you to the best courses.

Secondly, make training on industrial relations compliance and Modern Awards a mandatory part of the onboarding process for line managers, HR and payroll staff. You’ll get your new hires off to a great start and protect yourself from unnecessary errors and compliance issues that arise from a lack of knowledge.

Thirdly, take advantage of the free training made available by Fair Work Australia. You’ll find a range of online courses and a wealth of information on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Tip 4: Make use of free compliance and Modern Award interpretation resources

Another quick and easy way to ensure compliance is by taking advantage of the free templates, best practice guides and resources available online from government agencies. Using templates helps you start off right with very little effort.

Here’s a list of our picks:

Fair Work Ombudsman – Templates

Fair Work Ombudsman – Best Practice Guides

Fair Work Ombudsman – Newsletter for regular updates on rule changes and new resources

Fair Work Commission – Resources for HR Managers, Heads of HR and employment law practitioners 

Australian Government Business Website – Modern Awards and Agreements by state

Ensure relevant staff know how to access these resources – perhaps keep them in a shared file or host them on your intranet so they can access them quickly whenever they need them.

Tip 5: Put in place regular workplace law compliance audits

This doesn’t have to be a mammoth task and there’s no need to stop everything for an audit. It’s simply a matter of reviewing your processes every six to twelve months to ensure they are watertight, ensure your contracts and documents are up to date and review the number of errors and potential and actual non-compliance issues to see what can be improved. Perhaps build it in to your preparations for end of financial year so it doesn’t get missed. A couple of hours work could save you months of heartache.

While these tips require some effort to begin with, dealing with non-compliance issues is far more expensive, time-consuming and disruptive than any of the measures listed above.

At Roubler, we believe that the best way to ensure compliance with minimal disruption to your business is by making compliance a way of life in your business, integrated throughout all you do, and facilitated by fantastic technology. Why not read more about our build-in compliance tools, and why switching to Roubler’s all-in-one platform is the best way to ensure compliance?


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