One of our services at Franchise Right is to ensure our clients are kept up to date with the latest legislations and laws relating to franchising within Australia.
On September 20, 2017 the New Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 was introduced. This Act is now in force and increases the exposure and legal responsibilities of employers and franchisors within their franchise system.
In 2016, a number of Australian-based franchises endured reputational and financial damage as they dealt with allegations of underpaying employees. In some cases, franchisors avoided legal liability as they claimed they were unaware of the actions of the franchisees within their franchise system. As a result, the Act will provide adequate protection for franchise employees and will require franchisors to review their current systems and address non-compliance issues.
- Penalties are steep: the maximum penalty for a person who knowingly contravenes an Award or the Fair Work Act as part of a systematic pattern of conduct is up to $540,000 for a corporation and $108,000 for an individual.
- New penalties: for providing Fair Work Inspectors with false or misleading information or records, and new prohibitions for hindering or obstructing investigations into underpayment and exploitation of vulnerable workers.
- New reverse onus of proof: requiring employers in claims for unpaid wages where the employer has not produced wage slips or employment records.