Australia is home to an abundance of incredibly diverse businesses, each of which must operate in accordance with a different selection of legislation that’s relevant to them.
Identifying these requirements can be a burden for small businesses- even more so considering legislation is constantly being reviewed and updated, while many organisations fail to adjust their systems as required.
For many businesses, introducing and seeing to the ongoing implementation of compliant, systematic and responsive systems is an overwhelming task. While it may be tempting to focus solely on operational and financial imperatives and leave legislation in the “too hard basket”, in the longer term, ignoring legislative compliance can be very harmful to your businesses viability.
This is because, ultimately, those who don’t stay on top of the latest legislative updates are at risk of incurring a plethora of penalties. For instance, depending on the extent of an organisation’s misconduct, they may be subject to anything from costly fines to legal prosecution and criminal liability.
Why is Legislative Compliance Important?
Your business’ minimum legislative requirements weren’t pulled out of thin air.
Each strict guideline has been purposefully developed and enforced by government and regulatory bodies to organise society and protect citizens. Thus, maintaining legislative compliance is not only vital for your business, but also for your employees, customers and the greater community.
Beyond avoiding penalties, compliance can assist your organisation in keeping your reputation intact. It comes as no surprise that, if you aren’t fulfilling the requirements of relevant legislation, this will reflect poorly on your business. This can, consequently, have negative implications for your ongoing relationships with stakeholders.
Upon discovering that a company isn’t operating in accordance with their legal duties, customers may be deterred from supporting them in future. Similarly, many employees don’t want to be associated with organisations that conduct operations in an unethical, neglectful manner.
When it comes to managing legislative updates, if you’re considering taking shortcuts, such risks are well worth bearing in mind. Before you make a decision, we’d strongly suggest assessing whether your choice is one that might only serve to harm your business down the road.
The Challenge Of Maintaining Your Legislative Compliance
Why do so many organisations opt for cutting corners, instead of effectively maintaining their compliance with legislative updates?
The short answer – it’s not a straightforward process.
Also, achieving legally compliant processes takes an investment of time, resources and/or money,
As mentioned, legislation is constantly being revised; thus, staying on top of the latest changes can be time consuming. If you’re not experienced in managing legislative updates and systematically implementing any necessary changes, the way legislation is written can be confusing and so the task can become even more daunting.
The way to view it is in terms of long-term results, rather than “quick wins”. Legislative compliance doesn’t happen overnight. Thus, it’s important to make a start and allocate some time each month to review and update so that at any point in time, you are in a good position if audited by WorkSafe or the EPA for example. Having good systems which accurately reflect the legislative requirements is essential also. Cloud-based systems can be helpful in allowing businesses to communicate changes in legislative requirements more quickly and easily to their people.
For those unable or unwilling to DIY, or just wanting some guidance, a consultant with expertise in your industry can help you quickly identify the legislation you should be considering.
At Integrated Compliance Solutions, our consultants know what it takes to get and stay compliant with Australian legislative updates. We’re experts in developing lean, low-burden systems, removing the pain and administrative burden from achieving your legislative compliance objectives.
Understanding Your Business’ Legislative Requirements
The existing business landscape is ever-changing, so it’s important that your systems are continually being reviewed and adjusted accordingly. This is the case regardless of your business’ size, industry and location in Australia.
Luckily, there are numerous ways to keep your business “in the loop” and to ensure that you’re fully aware of your current legislative requirements. There’s no harm in taking your own measures to stay informed, even if you’re getting guidance from an external party.
Tactics we’d recommend include, but aren’t limited to:
- Signing up to newsletters from relevant legislators (such as regulatory bodies);
- Attending seminars, conferences and/or online training sessions;
- Reviewing your legislation register often;
- Contacting consultants who specialise in the field and can provide you with reliable, up-to-date information.
It’s important to note that, in Australia, legislation can differ between states and territories. Thus, if your organisation has numerous locations across the country, this will need to be taken into account during the development of your policies and procedures. Undeniably, the lack of standardisation across states can make understanding the legal landscape much more complex and confusing.
Because of this, many people find that they benefit from getting in touch with a dedicated consultant who is an expert in legislation requirements for their industry. A specialist can assist you in quickly understanding the relevant requirements as well as keeping track of any legislative updates, all the while focusing on implementing solutions that will preserve the longevity of your business.
Common Types of Legislation Relevant to Businesses
While there are, of course, an abundance of legislative requirements your business will need to comply with, our team commonly establish the following as a foundation.
Managing health and safety legislation updates, as well as environmental law updates, is compulsory for businesses across Australia. Misconduct in either area can result in significant penalties for the business and be detrimental for not only your staff members but also the community as a whole.
Environmental Legislation Updates
As our awareness of environmental matters has evolved, environmental legislation has increasingly been introduced to address emerging challenges. In fact environmental legislation gets updated far more frequently than health and safety at the moment as it reflects the outcomes of research into various environmental risks and suitable restrictions are enforced to prevent public harm and minimise and/or eliminate a business’ impact on the environment.
Key areas currently being targeted across Australia include the amount of pollution or waste that organisations produce, such as the CO2 emissions a company emits or the potential impact of stored hazardous chemicals on our rivers and waterways. In order to reduce risks, as to prevent detrimental events that would inevitably cause harm to society and/or the environment- legislation mandates businesses taking a proactive, practical action to protect the environment by meeting the legislated requirements.
For more information specific to your state, contact an environmental legislation professional.
Health and Safety Legislation Updates
In a bid to achieve greater legislative harmonisation across Australia, Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws were introduced during 2012. However, Victoria and Western Australia forfeited this adoption, instead opting to continue enforcing the requirements of Occupational Health and Safety legislation.
It’s important to be aware of which regulations apply to your business, as to make sure you’re meeting all of your state’s minimum obligations.
Health and safety legislation serves the ultimate purpose of ensuring that employers are taking reasonable measures to provide their staff members with a safe working environment. By lowering their employee’s exposure to illness or potentially harmful risks, business owners and managers can:
- Improve staff retention;
- Attract experienced, talented employees;
- Improve productivity in the workplace;
- Reduce the number of employees who experience injury or illness in the workplace;
- Maintain a strong positive reputation;
- Lower employee compensation costs for illness or injury suffered in the workplace.
This is a general overview of two categories of legislation that may be relevant to your business. For information tailored to your organisation’s unique circumstances, get in touch with our team of experienced consultants today.
Staying Up-to-Date With the Latest Legislation: How We Can Help
How can our consultants help you stay up-to-date on the legislation that applies to you?
1. Developing a Legislation Register
A legislation register details an organisation’s legislative needs or, in other words, the legal requirements with which they must comply.
At ICS, our consultants regularly assist businesses in developing a thorough, personalised legislation register to assess and document their existing level of compliance.
2. Legislative Update Services
Our industry-expert consultants know the ins-and-outs of legislative compliance and, because of this, they can also provide you with reliable expert interpretations of any updates that are relevant to you.
This service ensures you’re aware of any legislation changes that will impact your business on a regular basis and most importantly, what are the implications of these changes for your business, all the while removing the frustration and administrative burden out of staying informed on compliance.
3. Legislative Compliance Audits
A legislative compliance audit assesses how closely your business’ existing systems align with your legislative requirements. This, in turn, assists organisations in determining where there are gaps in their current processes so that they can develop a clear action plan for addressing these discrepancies.
For more information, see our dedicated webpage on legislative compliance.
Implementing Legislative Updates
While management play a crucial role in guiding change, implementing legislative updates requires organisation-wide collaboration and commitment.
If you’re looking to get long-term results, it’s important to make legislative compliance a core component of your workplace culture. This will almost always be far more effective than focusing on just “ticking the boxes” as your legislative requirements change.
In order to do this, you’ll likely need to reassess your current approach to legal compliance. While many businesses find this task daunting, it all comes back to thinking beyond your existing needs, so that your efforts are maintainable well into the future.
When your business is introducing legislative updates, we’d recommend doing the following:
- Provide your employees with sufficient training, information and access to relevant resources;
- Establish a focus on continual improvement across all organisational levels;
- Keep comprehensive records of your legislative requirements (and document your business’ progress in satisfying them);
- Appoint a compliance officer and/or seek external assistance from an experienced consultant.
Get Compliant With the Latest Legislative Updates
For expert guidance in satisfying your ongoing legislative requirements, get in touch with our team of experienced consultants by calling 1300 132 745 or emailing [email protected].