Fair Work has now entered new territory!
The RIGHT advice for people matters – does your Bookkeeper know the ins and outs of Fair Work to make sure your business is compliant with all of the tricky legislative requirements for employment?
The answer is unlikely. Bookkeepers and accountants lay a hugely important role in ensuring your business is meeting all financial and taxation government regulations. Certainly without their help most small businesses would be in shambles and employees may be waiting months to get paid! However, is this group of experts equipped to provide you with detailed employment advice?
In a landmark case, the Fair Work Ombudsman has recently entered bold new territory by initiating legal proceedings against a Melbourne Accounting firm in the Federal Circuit Court. EZY Accounting 123 managed payroll services on behalf of Blue Impressions Pty Ltd, who were found to have illegally underpaid Taiwanese workers.
In 2014 Blue Impressions Pty Ltd was put on notice by the Fair Work Ombudsman after a national audit on the hospitality industry uncovered that that they had underpaid 12 workers up to a total of $8,800 below the minimum wages specified in the Award. At the time of the audit, EZY Accounting 123 were also informed of the breach and helped to calculate and rectify the wage underpayments. Despite this previous breach however, EZY Accounting 123 allegedly processed further illegal payments for two workers on a holiday visa between September 2014 and April 2015, knowing the rates being paid were below the lawful minimum.
EZY Accounting 123 is also now facing Court penalties of up to $51,000 per contravention, with the employer and owner facing similar fines. This is the first time the Fair Work Ombudsman have actively targeted an accounting firm for deliberately and knowingly contravening workplace law and has heralded the first step in a campaign to ensure all advisory services to businesses are acting within the bounds of workplace law.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James noted that “We have been concerned about the role of key advisers, such as accountants and HR professionals, in some serious and deliberate contraventions…Small business relies heavily on trusted advisers, and if they give incorrect or bad advice, or deliberately assist with the contravention, should they not be held accountable?”
At Master HR Solutions we cannot only provide independent advice to you as a business on the subject we know best – people, but also partner with your 3rd party service providers like accountants, insurance brokers, bookkeepers to ensure you are compliant in all aspects of employment law and payroll/contractual obligations.
We also provide a valuable additional service to many bookkeepers and accountants of ‘behind the scenes’ HR guidance and support to ensure they remain up to date in providing their clients with the latest advice and best practice (whilst also making them look like employment experts!).
So if you want to seek additional advice, or you’re a number cruncher looking for some assistance in the realm in navigating the tricky web of Australian employment law for your clients, please contact our team for an obligation free discussion with one of our consultants to see how we can best help you.
Master HR Solutions