Check your business compliance in 10 steps
Compliance is all about making sure your business and your employees are following the laws, regulations, standards and ethical practices that apply to your business or industry.
These rules can come from any level of government - local, state and federal - as well as agencies and independent regulatory organisations.
Think of compliance as being a responsible citizen or team player. Just like following traffic rules or security procedures at airports, compliance involves sticking to the guidelines set down by those in charge. Ensuring that your business follows all the necessary rules and regulations can save you from costly fines and penalties, possible legal action and damage to your brand or business reputation in the long run.
The main over-arching law which all businesses no matter their size in Australia need to comply with is the Australian Competition and Consumer Act (2010). Find out more about this Act and the body which acts as our national fair-trading umpire, champion of all consumers and product safety watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission here.
Are you fully covered in terms of what you and your employees need to do to make sure your business is on the right track?
Here are 10 simple steps to get you started:
Identify laws, regulations and licences: First things first, it's essential to identify which laws, regulations and licences apply to your industry, business type and location. The Australian Government offers a free service if you’re not sure what licences, regulations, council approvals or compliance requirements you need. Check out the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS).
- Establish compliance policies and procedures: Once you know the regulations that apply to your business, it's time to create your own set of policies and procedures that outline how you and your employees will comply with them. These can be tailored to meet the needs, size and scale of your business, If you’re unsure how to go about this, the ACCC has free templates that can help you get started.
- Educate your employees: Just like workplace safety, compliance should be the responsibility of everyone in your business. It doesn’t mean you have to have a fancy video or manual to show all or new employees. It just requires an ongoing commitment by your or your management to ensure your staff understand the importance of compliance and how their actions can impact the business. You want to foster a culture of compliance within your business.
- Implement internal controls: You do need to establish some internal controls or procedures within your day-to-day operations or trading. You want checks and balances and regular audits done alongside a commitment to address any issues promptly.
- Keep track of changes in regulations: Not all regulations are set in stone, some can change over time. As a business owner or manager, it’s up to you stay up-to-date with any amendments or new regulations that may affect your business. Best ways to stay informed is by subscribing to relevant industry newsletters, participating in industry forums, or checking in with whoever provides you with legal advice.
- Secure sensitive data: In today's digital age, data protection is a significant aspect of compliance. Safeguard sensitive information by implementing robust security measures, training employees on data privacy, and complying with applicable data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- Monitor vendor compliance: If your business relies on third-party vendors or contractors, their compliance is equally important. You should regularly review their compliance practices and ensure they are meeting the same standards you've set for your business. This will help reduce any potential risks associated with non-compliant vendors.
- Establish a reporting system: Create a system for your employees to alert you or report any compliance concerns or breaches without fear of reprisal. Encourage open communication and take any concerns or reports seriously. Investigate and address issues promptly to maintain a compliant environment.
- Carry out regular audits: Regular compliance audits are an excellent way to assess the effectiveness of your compliance procedures and system. You could consider using an external auditor to review your policies, procedures, and controls. This will help identify any gaps or areas that need improvement.
- Stay engaged: Compliance is a fact of business life. Stay engaged with industry developments, regulatory updates and best practices. Talk to other businesses about their methods and learnings. Be open to adopting new ways or introducing changes to ensure your business always remains compliant.
Compliance is not just a box-ticking exercise. It's about establishing a culture of ethics, responsibility, and accountability within your business. By following these steps, you can lay a strong foundation for compliance and protect your business from unnecessary risks.