Business Compliance

Can you navigate the complex legal requirements to run a business?

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Complying with the multitude of legislation and regulation is a demanding aspect of all businesses. As a small to medium business owner, you are faced with daily challenges on how to respond to situations to ensure you are meeting your obligations as an employer.

NS8 Group will assist you in navigating the legal landscape and ensure that your business complies with all requirements. Our expert legal advice provides any business that places an importance upon “doing the right thing” piece of mind.

When you start a business, you need to understand what laws apply to you. Let us alleviate your risk and stress by taking care of the complex, costly and tedious aspects of running a business.

COVID-19 support

Every Victorian business that is open must follow the six principles to ensure a COVIDSafe workplace.

It is also mandatory for every Victorian business to have a COVIDSafe Plan. High-risk industries must have a specific High Risk COVIDSafe Plan in order to operate.

  • Ensure physical distancing
  • Wear a face mask
  • Practise good hygiene
  • Keep records and act quickly
  • Avoid interactions in enclosed spaces
  • Create workforce bubbles

What happens if an employee tests positive to COVID-19? Do you know your obligations?

Let NS8 Group assist you with business recovery beyond COVID-19

Business registrations

If you conduct a business, you may need to comply with tax obligations. These could require you to register for:

  • Australian business number (ABN)
  • goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • tax file number (TFN)
  • pay as you go (PAYG) withholding

Other optional registrations include:

  • Business name – if you want to trade under a particular name,you may need to register it.
  • Trade marks – if you want exclusive rights to a business name, you need to register a trade mark.
  • Website domains – if you set up a website, you need to register a domain name.

Fair trading

Fair trading laws ensure your business operates fairly and competitively. These laws also ensure that you inform and protect your customers.

To make sure your business meets fair trading regulations, you need to consider:

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Fair trading laws

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Australian Consumer Law and your business

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Competition and Consumer Act

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Australian standards

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Codes of Conduct

When you sell products or services, you need to understand:

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Australia's trade measurement laws

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displaying prices

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product labelling

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secure card payments

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warranties and refunds

Contracts

When you agree to do a job in exchange for money or some other benefit, you’re probably entering a commercial contract. This contract is legally enforceable regardless of whether it is a ‘handshake deal’ or written agreement.

Make sure you understand the contract before signing.

Working with contracts is a large part of small business management. Once in place, the requirements of a contract dictate how you operate.

NS8 Group can assist you to understand contracts including:

  • the essential ingredients of a contract
  • legal jargon used in contracts
  • different types of contracts
  • basic content and structure of contracts
  • what standard form contracts are and some useful pointers on constructing your own
  • basic issues relating to specific types of small business relationships

Privacy laws

If you collect and store your customers’ personal information, you must comply with privacy laws. These laws detail how a business must handle personal information, especially as it relates to direct marketing purposes.

If the Privacy Act covers your business, you’ll have to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). The APPsare the cornerstone of the privacy protection framework in the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act).

There are 13 Australian Privacy Principles and they govern standards, rights and obligations around:

  • the collection, use and disclosure of personal information
  • an organisation or agency’s governance and accountability
  • integrity and correction of personal information
  • the rights of individuals to access their personal information

Employment
laws

You have legal obligations when you employ people. Your obligations require you to:

  • pay your employees correct wages
  • abide by work health and safety (WHS) regulations and codes of practice
  • ensure you have workers’ compensation insurance for each employee
  • not act in a way that may seriously damage an employee’s reputation or cause mental distress or humiliation
  • comply with any working with vulnerable people or children requirements

Anti-bullying laws

Bullying at work occurs when a person or group of people, repeatedly behave unreasonably towards a worker and put the worker’s health or safety at risk.

Harassment and bullying in the workplace has legal risks. If you employ people, be aware of the steps you can take to minimise your potential liability.

Intellectual property

Your business may have intellectual property (IP) it needs to protect. Before applying for your intellectual property right, you should do a comprehensive search to make sure that it isn’t already registered.

You can register IP yourself or seek advice from us.

Environmental protections

Federal, state and local governments jointly administer the environmental protection laws in Australia. As a business owner, you need to understand which laws apply to you.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places — defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance.

The objectives of the EPBC Act are to:

  • provide for the protection of the environment, especially matters of national environmental significance
  • conserve Australian biodiversity
  • provide a streamlined national environmental assessment and approvals process
  • enhance the protection and management of important natural and cultural places
  • control the international movement of plants and animals (wildlife), wildlife specimens and products made or derived from wildlife
  • promote ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources
  • recognise the role of Indigenous people in the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia’s biodiversity
  • promote the use of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge of biodiversity with the involvement of, and in cooperation with, the owners of the knowledge.

Marketing compliance

You must comply with relevant regulations when marketing your products or services. These regulations ensure that you don’t mislead your customers.

These regulations include laws on:

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advertising

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signage

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spam

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pricing

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license music use in your advertising or even playing music in your business

Honest advertising practices are not just good for business – they are required by law. The Australian Consumer Law contains a number of rules that businesses must follow when advertising and selling products and services.

Any statement representing your products or services should be true, accurate and able to be substantiated. There are fines for businesses that mislead consumers. It does not matter whether a false or misleading statement was intentional or not.

Displaying prices

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regulates how to display prices within your business. You must be clear, accurate and not mislead consumers.

2 ways to comply with Australian Consumer Law (ACL) include:

  • showing the total price
  • accurately displaying comparisons

Why choose NS8 Group?

We can help. We provide expert advice to employees and employers in all matters relating to employment separation and prosecuting dismissal claims.

Call our Team today. We will help you with your workplace questions.

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Fixed Fees.

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Plain Speak.

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Legal Advice.

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We take care of everything.

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We will represent you at the conciliation conference.

Furniture chains pay penalties for making alleged misleading 'was/now' price claims

Four furniture retailers have each paid a penalty of $12,600 after the ACCC issued them with an infringement notice following an ACCC investigation into the industry’s use of ‘was/now’ price comparisons in advertising.

Plush – Think Sofas Pty Ltd (Plush); Koala & Tree Pty Ltd (trading as Koala Living); ESR Group Holdings Pty Ltd (trading as Early Settler); and Oz Design Furniture Pty Ltd each received an infringement notice.

The ACCC had reasonable grounds to believe each retailer had made false or misleading representations by claiming that consumers would save money if they purchased certain furniture items when this was not the case.

The retailers used advertising statements such as ‘was $2599, now $2049’, or ‘$799, save $200’, when the furniture item had never been advertised at the ‘was’ price, or was only advertised at the ‘was’ price for a short period of time.

For example, one of the retailers advertised a ‘Roller Ottoman’ at a price of $539 with the words ‘save $360’, even though it was available for $449 directly before the sale, while another advertised an occasional chair with the words ‘$799, save $200’, when its usual price for the previous six-months was $699, $100 cheaper than the sale price.

“Consumers rely on comparative pricing to find the best deal available. If there are no genuine savings, businesses are misleading consumers,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Using claims of false savings to induce consumers to purchase products also disadvantages competing retailers which are complying with the law.”

“The ACCC has taken this enforcement action to send a strong message to retailers that they must ensure that any claimed savings are accurate and based on a “before” price which has been offered for a reasonable period when using comparison advertising,” Ms Court said.

Terms and conditions

If your business operates digitally, you may need to include your policies on your website. The most common policies on websites include:

  • Terms and conditions
  • Privacy policy
  • Returns policy

Terms and conditions help establish how visitors, users and customers use your website. As your customers may not interact with you directly before purchasing a product or service, terms and conditions may act as a contract between you and the customer.

FAQs

FAQ’s are for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice

Why build a compliance program?

Business compliance is the process of making sure your business and employees follow the laws, regulations, standards, and ethical practices that apply to your business.

A compliance program is a set of internal policies, procedures and training modules employed by a business designed to:

  • identify and reduce the risk of breaching the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA)
  • remedy any breach that may occur
  • create a culture of compliance within the business

A compliance program does not just consist of having a staff manual or video to show to all new employees. It requires an ongoing commitment by management to ensure that compliance is part of the businesses overall focus.

Is my business too small to have a corporate compliance program?

No, your business is never too small to have a corporate compliance program. The key is to tailor your program to the size and type of business you run. Even if you are a business of one, a corporate compliance program will enable the proper documentation of essential business processes such as accounting processes. Having even a basic program in place will not only make it easier to run your business but also make the business more attractive to a potential buyer. As your business grows, a well-designed compliance program will ensure that employees understand their obligations in regards to fair competition, privacy, intellectual property, dealing with regulators and other staff to mention just a few.

What is a contract?

A contract refers to a commercial contract made between a contractor and a hirer:

  • Hirer refers to the person or business that engages a contractor. Sometimes, a contract or a law will refer to the hirer as a ‘principal’.
  • Contractors include people who describe themselves as ‘self-employed’, a ‘consultant’ or a ‘subcontractor’.

A commercial contract may be for:

  • your labour or skills where payment is based on hourly or daily rates
  • you to achieve a result where payment is based on a fixed fee

Commercial contracts are different from ’employment’ contracts that apply to employers and employees.

Does the Privacy Act cover your business?

Regardless of turnover, the Privacy Act covers any business that is:

  • a health service provider
  • trading in personal information
  • a contractor that provides services under a Commonwealth contract
  • an operator of a residential tenancy database
  • a credit reporting body
  • a reporting entity for the purposes of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006
  • employee associations registered or recognised under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009
  • a business that conducts protection action ballots
  • a business accredited under the Consumer Data Right system
  • related to a business the Privacy Act covers
  • a business prescribed by the Privacy Regulation 2013
  • a business that has opted in to be covered by the Privacy Act
What is the Do Not Call Register?

If you want to use telemarketing, you need to comply with Do Not Call Register legislation. The Do Not Call Register is a list of protected phone and fax numbers. If you contact a number on the register, you may be in breach of the law and could face penalties.