So my name is Andrew Stirling. I’m a Managing Associate at the law firm Allens. I specialise in employment workplace relations law. So we really do everything from contract drafting through to enterprise bargaining, through to employee disputes and employment law compliance work.
The biggest policy development in the last, I would say probably three or four years is the proposal now supported by both the Coalition and the ALP to impose liability for compliance with the Fair Work Act, on franchisors and parent companies for their franchisees and subsidiaries. Now that isn’t law yet, but we expect that in the next six months or a year or so, for that law to be introduced. And essentially the details aren’t quite there yet, but essentially what we expect to see is that if franchisees are underpaying their employees, the franchisor will be liable for those underpayments. Unless they can show that they’ve been taking reasonable steps to ensure that the franchisees are complying with the law. And it isn’t just about meeting minimum compliance standards. I mean as lawyers we can get a little bit caught up on just meeting that sort of minimum standard. But there are efficiencies and there are productivity improvements, and there are gains that you can make by having the right technology, and the right systems, and being best practice, being at the frontier. Rather than just sure you’ve complied with the law, but you’d be out ahead of your competitors at the same time.
As a law firm you got no choice but to keep up with it, because that’s the way society’s heading so clients not only are looking for innovative ways for you to provide legal services they expect it. And it allows you to do things more efficiently and so that allows you do things more cheaply, which rolls on to a benefit for the client. In terms of our practice in particular in employment law, and we’re looking to companies like Tanda to assist us with the kind of services that you provide in terms of compliance, meeting minimum Award conditions, setting those benchmarks for Better Off Overall Tests.
The Modern Awards were introduced with the expressed intention of simplifying the system, but I’m not sure that they really meet that standard. That they’ve really done that, that they’ve really achieve that simplification. Sure there are fewer Modern Awards than there were Awards six years ago, but they’re still difficult to interpret. There are still multiple rates of pay at multiple times, you could be getting paid overtime. Overtime might be payable if you’d work too many hours in a week, might be payable if you work in particular days of the week, it might be payable if you’re working on weekdays but outside particular hours. It’s a complicated system. The real difficulty for businesses, is interpreting and applying those consistently. And when you’ve got people involved, you’re bringing human error. Provided you have the right technology you can bring it into doing that work for you. The more likely you are to be accurate, and the more likely you are to be compliant.