Can you afford to risk it?

The compliance obligations for a licensed venue are many and complex, with ever increasing penalties for breaches. The new industrial manslaughter legislation is active and there have already been jail sentences handed down to managers in workplace fatality cases.

If you are classed as an Officer or a Person in Charge of a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) of your organisation (which means you are in a significant decision-making role for the company), you have very specific obligations to ensure the organisation is compliant across all regulatory requirements. Along with these specific obligations comes heavy penalties. For example, Category 1 WHS breaches leading to serious injury may cost YOU (as an Officer / PCBU) up to $600,000 and 5 years in jail. Plus, up to $3 million in fines for the organisation.

A failure to report a Suspicious Matter Report on time could see fines from AUSTRAC of up to 100,000 penalty units for each breach. (One penalty unit = $210) Providing false or misleading information in your annual Compliance Report is a criminal offence under the AML/CTF Act.

Can you afford that?

The importance of maintaining compliance under current legislative requirements cannot be understated. While balancing the various and competing demands of these regulatory accountabilities with your existing stakeholder commitments and business needs is difficult and time consuming — the alternative could be far worse.

It’s becoming all too commonplace in industry news; articles about businesses faced with large penalties, and infringements from breaches of regulatory requirements ranging from workers getting injured due to negligence, to non-conformances relating to AML/CTF Program, as well as kitchen closures and improvement notices stemming from poor food safety standards. The list could go on.

Below are just some of the recent issues you may be familiar with:

  • AUSTRAC successfully prosecuting Tabcorp and Commonwealth Bank for breaches of the AML/CTF Act totalling $745million in total;
  • Introduction of tough new penalties for breaches of WHS legislation, including fines of up to $600,000 for individuals and 10 years in jail.
  • Codes of practice in Queensland are now mandatory.
  • Food security issues with needles found in strawberries and apples;
  • The cancellation of 15 Food Business Licences and the issue of over $435,000 in fines in the Brisbane City area alone, due to cleanliness, maintenance and pest control issues;
  • Heavy hits to a business’ cashflow arising from a back-payment of wages following the inaccurate / incorrect application of award provisions; and
  • Changes to the National Minimum Wage and impact on pay and conditions for staff.

So … How at risk are you?

Do you have an effective AML/CTF Program in place?
Is it up-to-date with current legislative requirements? How effective is your venue’s implementation of this program? When was the last time you had your program reviewed by an independent third party? Are you confident in your ability to pass an AUSTRAC inspection?

Do you have adequate safety systems in place?
Are your workers aware of those WHS policies and procedures implemented by the business? Are you discharging your duties to provide a safe work environment and safe systems of work? Do you know what the hazards are in your venue?

What about your food safety procedures?
How well would you rate if audited by your local council? Does your business have food safety monitoring procedures in place? What about schedules and procedures for cleaning and sanitising? Do you currently have a Food Safety Supervisor and adequate training systems in place to ensure the food you produce is safe?

Are you sure you are offering fair pay?
As a major cost for any business, do you accurately interpret and apply award provisions when calculating pay and conditions? Would your systems and process stand up under review by the Fair Work Ombudsman or Fair Work Commission? Are there ways for you to work smarter using award provisions to create efficiencies in the workplace?

Managing the day-to-day operations of your business is hard enough without having to deal with the legislative mine field illustrated above on your own! Don’t wait until it’s too late, it’s always best practice to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to compliance.

As industry leaders in safety and compliance support, we can deliver a tailored package to suit your specific needs and help protect you and your venue. Email Michelle Pitman at michelle@dws.net.au, or call 0401 014 619.

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