Australian legislation exists to protect consumers, the environment, employees and the community at large.
These laws govern how businesses conduct their day-to-day operations and ensure that if those businesses don’t satisfy regulatory requirements, they can be held accountable.
Therefore, it’s important your business not only monitors current legislation, but also stays up-to-date on upcoming legislative updates and changes, so you have enough time to adjust your operations as required.
Occupational health and safety legislative updates
Changes to casual employment requirements
Recently, amendments were made to the Fair Work Act 2009, which came into effect on 27 March 2021. These changes involved the workplace entitlements and obligations for casual employees, including revisions regarding the definition of a ‘casual employee’.
As an employer, taking the time to understand these updates and what they mean for your business is crucial otherwise, you risk overlooking key requirements. Following these changes, a Casual Employment Information Statement (the CEIS) must be given to every new casual employee before or as soon as possible after they start a new job.
Mandatory vaccinations for high-risk workplaces
While vaccines are being rolled out across the country, the overwhelming majority of employers cannot require their employees to be vaccinated. However, in some instances, state and territory governments are enforcing a public health order that requires certain high-risk workers get vaccinated.
For example, as of March 2021, in accordance with a public health direction issued by the Queensland Government, health service employees, Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) employees and hospital and health service contractors must get vaccinated before coming into the workplace.
Similar measures have since been taken by other state governments, such as the Western Australia Government, which from 10 May 2021 made it mandatory for quarantine centre workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. These regulations impact security personnel, cleaners, hotel staff, medical and health staff and ADF personnel and WA police. As of early June, aged care workers in WA must also be vaccinated to attend their place of work.
Environmental legislative updates
Australian environmental protection laws are jointly administered by federal, state and local governments and legislation is updated frequently.
As a business owner, maintaining compliance with environmental legislation is key – and this means understanding not only what your requirements are but also how they apply to your organisation.
The amended Environment Protection Act 2017 will soon come into effect
One example of these changes is that in July 1 2021, the revised Environment Protection Act 2017 will officially come into effect in Victoria. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back The Act’s timeline, but enforcement is now just around the corner.
What does this mean for businesses in this state?
- Businesses must minimise the risk of their activities harming the environment or human health. This includes getting suitable permissions (permits, registrations and licences), ensuring waste is disposed of correctly, reporting pollution and minimising the risks that come with contaminated land;
- The Environmental Protection Authority will be given more powers for investigating the environmental impact of businesses in terms of waste management and pollution;
- Fines for non-conformance have increased significantly. If businesses commit a serious breach of the Act, they can be fined up to $3.2 million and even face jail time if they are a repeat or deliberate offender.
Staying on top of your business’ legislative requirements
Legislation is constantly being reviewed and amended, and regulatory compliance is non-negotiable for Australian businesses. But, while staying on top of legislative updates is crucial, when businesses are already under the pump, this task can become overwhelming – particularly when there are constant changes that apply to your industry.
This is where an external consultant can take on the burden of monitoring your legislative compliance against changing requirements, removing the pain and frustration that all too often comes with doing this in house.
At ICS our team provides a range of legislative compliance services, which are purpose-designed to help organisations maintain conformance with regulatory requirements:
- A legislation register is a list of all the relevant legislation that applies to your business, based on your industry and the nature of your operations.
- Legislative updates services ensure your legislation register is always up-to-date with the latest legislation.
- A legislative compliance audit quickly and effectively evidences your business’ level of compliance with legislation. After their audit has been completed, organisations receive a report detailing how to address any gaps between their existing systems and their regulatory requirements.
Speak with a legislative updates consultant
Our team are available Australia-wide and have extensive experience in helping businesses get and stay compliant with legislation. For more information or if this article has brought up any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our legislative updates consultants.
Contact us today and find out how our team can help you achieve your business’ compliance goals.