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Managers liable for HR breaches

The Fair Work Ombudsman has warned human resources managers they could be held personally liable for breaches of Australia workplace laws by their employer.

In a speech to HR managers the Fair Work Ombudsman said "If any of you have ever had trouble persuading your board or your CEO of the merits of your advice, I'm here to give you the new pitch - compliance with workplace laws is not simply a question of tick and flick."

"If its sitting at the green light end of a risk matrix, you may want to consider what assurance you have put in place, not just with respect to the company's workers, but with respect to its labour supply chains. Who's emptying the bins or staffing the counter downstairs? Are you sure they are being paid correctly?"

"Those involved in the decision making around the strategy for and compliance with workplace laws are on notice. You can find yourselves personally liable for the actions or inactions you help the company take."

Highlighting increased penalties against employers proposed by the government, the Fair Work Ombudsman said the regulator took a "dim view of deliberate, systemic, exploitive or opportunistic non compliance."

"Just like employers, we expect advisers to take their responsibilities seriously."

"If you know that your employer is running two sets of books or keeping false records or not paying employees their full entitlements, know that the new higher penalties may soon extend to them, and to you."

Read more about the risk of personal fines under Section 550 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

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