COSBOA Communique – Fair & Compliant Workplaces
On Monday 3 April 2017, COSBOA conducted a workshop with small business representatives and regulators to understand what can be done to ensure fairer and more compliant workplaces. The following key points were noted.
1. Breaches of employment law in Australia are not systemic in the small business sector, there is nonetheless a need to ensure better compliance, given that wage non-compliance brings broader problems in Australian society, including:
a) A failure in our national responsibility to protect vulnerable workers, including: migrant workers. Woman and youth.
b) Distorting competition where businesses paying legal wages are at a disadvantage to those businesses who are not
c) Under-employment of youth leading to the creation of broader social problems in our communities
2. COSBOA believes that the key to resolving this issue requires a comprehensive approach that makes it easier for small business to comply by:
a) Reducing the compliance burden by simplifying the laws that apply to small business, possibly via the development of a Small Business Employment Award
b) Helping small businesses to understand what is expected of them – from start up to maturity
c) Improving the level of trust between small business and regulators via improved education and engagement, possibly via the use of third parties such as Industry Bodies
d) Reducing the pressures on business cashflow by reducing the substantial culture of late payment in Australia
e) Advancing new regulation as a ‘last resort’, targeting only those businesses that are deliberately flouting the law.
f) Addressing issues associated with the operation of the Black Economy in Australia
g) Government agencies produce simple and user friendly check list and resources to inform small business of their compliance obligations
h) Encourage “Small Business Best Practices” through case studies and provide support through Government incentives
3. Government should work with industry to reduce the difficulty of ensuring compliance by relieving pressures created on small business cash flow because of:
a) Australia’s late payment culture, particularly with respect to payments from big business to small business
b) Streamlining payments from small business to government (and other parties) by combining superannuation payments with BAS payments
4. Future legislation and regulation should initially be crafted for small business, mindful of the fact that these businesses do not have the in-house compliance resources of larger businesses, by:
a) Requiring that all new legislation being pursued by Australian Governments (Federal, State/Territory and Local) incorporate a requirement for the conduct of a small business Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), overseen by the Australian Small Business and Family Ombudsman.
b) Engage with small business representatives when developing legislation and take into account the impact across other relevant legislation
COSBOA would like to thank all stakeholders who attended the workshop and looks forward to working cooperatively with all parties to advance practical solutions that are both proportional and effective.
Further: The Round Table was attended by representatives from the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission; Kate Carnell the Small Business & Family Enterprise Ombudsman; COSBOA Chairman Paul Nielsen and Directors Mark McKenzie, Pam Price and Dominic Schipano; Bruce Billson Chair of the Franchise Council of Australia; Alan Fels from the Migrant Workers Task Force; representatives from the Black Economy Task Force; Senator Jane Hume; Ed Husic MP; Judy O’Connell the Victorian Small Business Commissioner; and various industry representatives and COSBOA members.