Further to our recent article titled ‘Amendments proposed to the Vulnerable Workers Bill’, the Australian Senate passed the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 (‘Bill’) containing the following amendments put forward by the Australian Labor Party:
- In light of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ comments that workers could have been fined if they refused to give evidence against fellow workers or their union, amendments were adopted to confine the new coercive questioning powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman to investigations of underpayment and exploitation of vulnerable workers only; and
- The onus of proof in claims for unpaid wages was reversed in cases when an employer has not produced wage slips or employment records.
As a result of the amendments in the Senate, the Bill must now go back to the House of Representatives before it can become law.
Given the extensive fines that could be imposed pursuant to the proposed legislation, all franchisors ought to take proactive steps as soon as possible to address any non-compliance within their franchise networks. In particular, franchisors should ensure that appropriate due diligence systems are in place that will enable them to monitor the compliance of their franchisees and to take appropriate action when an underpayment, or an allegation of underpayment, has been identified.
Marino Law can review your franchise documentation and franchisee compliance systems and provide you with advice as to whether your franchised operations will be captured by the Bill and if so, what steps you need to take to amend your documentation and compliance processes moving forward to avoid incurring significant liability.
Marino Law has extensive experience acting for franchisees and franchisors with respect to the negotiation and preparation of franchise agreements and associated documentation. Marino Law also has extensive experience in dealing with disputes between franchisors and franchisees.
Should you require assistance in any of the above areas, please contact one of our highly experienced lawyers.