Workforce compliance

12 days of Christmas compliance chaos: Part 1

12 days of Christmas compliance chaos: Part 1
Amanda Jones
Amanda Jones
minute read
December 11, 2023
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Silly Season is upon us. Fewer and fewer people are coming into the office, and more and more Christmas parties are swarming the city bars. Mariah Carey has fully thawed, and “All I want for Christmas” is blasting on repeat on the radio. While the holiday season is so close you could touch it, those who work in payroll and employment law may not be having the same fun as their merry and care-free colleagues.

A lot has happened this year in the world of industrial relations, and there are some scenarios and legislations that should be acknowledged before going full swing into Christmas mode. Fear not – Yellow Canary is here to help (to the tune of “12 days of Christmas” - because festivities, of course!).

Twelve time & attendance systems

Despite best intentions, one of the most common data issues faced by employers is accurate roster and timesheet information.

Even the most whiz-bang, fresh-off-the-sleigh time and attendance system that promises to capture every single data point you could ever dream of, will only ever be around 90% accurate due to the inherent unpredictability of human behaviour. In reality, some timesheets simply don’t exist, some look like they’ve been handwritten in the dark, and others are only available for a very limited period.

Rest assured that data issues are an inevitable part of workforce compliance. We have seen it all and have tree-mendous ways of dealing with these common issues – check them out in more detail here, or reach out to us at Yellow Canary to learn more.

Eleven lump sum payments

Ah, the festive gift of lump sum payments. They come in all shapes and sizes, and cover a multitude of reasons, some of which are just a holiday mystery! Yellow Canary work with our clients and their legal representatives to determine what category these payments fit into.

Here are a few tips from Santa for Payroll Elves when processing lump sum payments:

  • Ensure there are adequate bookkeeping principles for the individual employee if there is not a clear wage code to identify the payment;
  • Consider the tax category that these payments go in. If you’re unsure, seek tax advice.
  • Consider how these payments fit into long service calculations and payments (are we back at day four again?)

Ten years maximum jail time for underpaying staff

No one wants to make Christmas phone calls from jail in true Paul Kelly fashion, but this could be the case for employers who are found to intentionally underpay their staff under The Closing Loopholes Bill. Employers who intentionally underpay their employees now face severe consequences, including the possibility of a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars and fines reaching up to $1,565,000 for an individual and $7,825,000 for a corporation.

Continuously monitoring your payroll, such as through Yellow Canary’s Always On Compliance product, can be the strongest tool for an employer to demonstrate due diligence, do right by their employees and escape prosecution.

Nine years since the last classification review

Classifications within awards and agreements aren’t necessarily easy to determine - they are a bit of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the industry that the instrument covers. The problem here is that they are not tailored to your business and the duties of your employees.

If that wasn’t enough, the last few years have resulted in new and emerging work types. While most businesses have had to pivot to keep up with reality, those award and agreement classifications have not changed. Without a regular review of classifications, the growth of an employee within the business may mean they’re effectively being underpaid.

Eight(y) paper timesheets

Record keeping? You’re all over it! You have every hardcopy timesheet, for every employee, for the last 7 years!  You’re definitely not going to be on the FWO’s naughty list this year... or are you?

Your paper rosters just need to be scanned in (although that's a fair few payroll elf hours!), but what happens when the scan quality is poor? Or an adjustment needs to be made after the fact? Or worse, the scans aren’t machine readable and need to be transcribed?!

A little Canary is telling us you might want to consider putting a digital timesheet system on your wish list this year.

Seven Annualised Salaries

Annualised arrangements are conceptually simple, but in practice, possibly complex, and are definitely not ‘set-and-forget.’ Depending on the award, an employer must undertake annual reconciliations of award pay against the annualised salary and cover any shortfall within 14 days. However, to calculate ‘award pay,’ we need to keep track of rosters, days worked, clock in and out times… you know, all the stuff an employer might hope to ‘annualise away.’

Look out for part 2 of our blog for more Christmas compliance chaos tips!

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