Your Business Has Received a Compliance Notice – Now What?

Managing the legalities of owning your own business can be tough. While you may be secure in believing you’ve dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’, issues do arise and problems need to be dealt with.

When you throw in a team of staff into the mix, you will find yourself also managing the needs and expectations of others. Similarly, ensuring all correspondence with your suppliers, software teams and banks is kept up-to-date can make for a hectic schedule, whereby messages may unintentionally be left unread.

For those on the receiving end, with bills to pay and families to feed, it’s paramount a manager is diligent in their approach to keeping their team supported financially.

On occasion, communication becomes weak, strained even. Processes are missed and money is owed. In an employee’s market, keeping staff happy is no longer just a desire, but a necessity. Where wages are left unpaid, the onus falls on the individual staff member to take legal action, namely via the issuing of a Compliance Notice.

According to The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), the issuing of Compliance Notices are considered “an effective tool to expeditiously fix underpayments where systemic compliance issues have not been identified,” Professional Beauty learns.

“Compliance Notices play a key role in ensuring underpaid wages are back-paid quickly, as the notice formally compels a person or business to take specific action to fix alleged breaches of the applicable industrial instrument.” The Compliance Notice, therefore, acts as a first step before further legal action could be taken by Fair Work.

“The FWO can issue a Compliance Notice based on a reasonable belief that breaches have occurred. If a person or business fails to comply with a Compliance Notice in accordance with statutory requirements, the FWO will take court action to enforce it in appropriate cases.

If we’re successful, the court can order the employer to repay the employee (under the terms of the original Compliance Notice) and also impose a penalty for failing to comply with the Compliance Notice,” a Fair Work Ombudsman spokesperson tells PB.

“In 2021–22, [FWO] issued 2,345 Compliance Notices, recovering more than $20 million in underpaid wages for 12,537 employees. This is 16% more Compliance Notices than we issued the year before and 23% higher recoveries.” 

The FWO has recently developed an online learning centre designed to educate employers on what a Compliance Notice is and how to respond if they receive one. The tool includes a step-by-step guide on how to respond to a Compliance Notice, as well as activities around how to calculate an underpayment.

Employers and employees can access free advice and assistance via the following:

The Fair Work Ombudsman website

By calling the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94

An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50

This link to a list of targeted resources for small businesses.

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