Key steps that your business can take to ensure corporate compliance

Whether you are starting a new business or maintaining a successful enterprise, it is imperative that your corporation be in full compliance with the laws governing all relevant business transactions. The laws governing corporations are codified in the Corporations Act of 2001.

While compliance can seem like an intimidating topic, the good news is that there are several ways to ensure that your business is well within the boundaries of the law. These include retaining a legal expert, creating a compliance program, or hiring a compliance firm to regularly review your business transactions for legal compliance.

Initially, it is important that your business is set up in a legally proper and sustainable manner. All businesses in NSW Australia must:

1. Register with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

2. Obtain all necessary licenses for every aspect of your business. The Australian Business License and Information Service is available to help you ascertain the various licenses your business will require to fully operate within the law.

3. Meet all of the March 2014 requirements of the Privacy Act. This Act means you must ensure that all personal information your corporation collects falls within the protective confines of law. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner can assist you in making sure that you are properly protecting private information of employees and consumers.

4. Have a strong understanding of the Fair Work Commission. The commission governs and hears issues pertaining to a broad spectrum of work place issues including bullying, workers’ compensation, proper payment of wages, fair dismissal and all labor laws pertaining to fair employment.

5. If your business uses independent contractors, then it is also necessary that you are in compliance with the laws that govern the hiring, compensation and the rights and obligations of all independent contractors and employers of the same.

Once your business is set up within the requirements of all corporations, the next step is to make sure that the day to day operations of the business continue to meet all of the rules and regulations. For example, if your business is a health service, it will be necessary for you to comply with not only the general corporate requirements, but also the specific health and safety issues for your health care service.

These specific daily compliance issues can be handled by any of the following:

  • A law firm or solicitor that regularly reviews the contracts, operations and laws that apply to your specific business
  • An in-house compliance officer who is charged with reviewing the contract, operations and laws that apply to your specific business. In addition, the compliance officer will be available on a daily basis to address issues that arise during the course of the work day that need immediate attention
  • Hiring a compliance firm that specialises in your business area. Such a firm will also monitor the changes in the laws and alert you to any adjustments you need to make to remain in compliance
  • Using compliance based software programs to track all of your compliance needs
  • Utilising all websites that offer ongoing information from the Australian Government pertaining to corporate compliance, such as the Australian Trade and Investment Commission

Any of these compliance program strategies, used alone or in conjunction with one another, will minimise your risk of falling out of compliance and being subject to penalties or prosecution for inadvertently breaking a corporate compliance law. As such, it is highly recommended that business owners inquire into all of these options to find the compliance program solution that will best meet their needs.

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers

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