THE Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a virtual hub with resources for small business owners seeking information about their workplace obligations.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James urged small business owners to participate in the small business showcase to ensure they were up-to-date with their obligations under workplace law.
“Australia’s workplace relations system is complex and can be hard to navigate, particularly for time-poor small and family businesses,” she said.
“Our experience, backed up by research, is that small businesses can be overconfident when it comes to compliance – failing to check the rules to ensure they’ve got things right.”
Ms James said successive campaigns undertaken by the agency had shown consistently lower rates of workplace compliance among small businesses when compared with bigger businesses (an average 15 per cent lower during the past two and a half years).
“Our small business showcase is a great opportunity for small businesses to brush up on their workplace relations knowledge, download practical resources and find out more about the assistance the agency can provide.
“We take a proportionate and fair approach to enforcement action, but we also expect employers to have checked the rules that apply to them – if not with the Fair Work Ombudsman, with a qualified adviser.
“We also need them to promptly rectify any errors and back-pay workers what they are owed when they arise.”
She said small businesses should also be aware that changes made by the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 had doubled the maximum penalty for failing to keep employee records or issue pay slips to $63,000 for a company and $12,600 for an individual and tripled the maximum penalty for knowingly making or keeping false or misleading employee records to $12,600 for an individual.
Ms James says that her agency received thousands of calls from small business owners each year.
“We set up the small business helpline to ensure that the specific needs of small businesses are recognised and accounted for.
“While we offer this free service and I’m delighted half a million businesses have called since its establishment in 2013 to receive tailored workplace advice, too many small businesses are continuing to get the basics wrong when it comes to paying workers correctly and meeting record-keeping requirements.
“Small errors arising from issues such as not passing on the annual wage increase or incorrectly classifying workers can add up to big underpayments over time – which can make for expensive and unexpected back-payment bills down the track.
“What we want to do now is make it even easier for small businesses to access the information they need to implement positive workplace practices and help their business succeed at any time of the day.”
The small business showcase consolidates all the information and resources a small business needs in one place and covers topics including hiring employees, calculating pay, keeping accurate records and resolving workplace issues.
It also includes six instructional videos demonstrating how small business owners can use Fair Work Ombudsman resources to meet their obligations as an employer.