Keeping up with changes at registered organisations


Directors and officers of registered organisations (ROs) are advised to ensure they are up to date with changes to the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009.

According to a spokesperson for the Fair Work Commission (FWC) there are several new requirements of officers of ROs to ensure they remain compliant with the RO Act.

Many of these relate to potential changes to organisation rules in relation to things such as expenditure policies, disclosure of remuneration paid to officers and disclosure of material personal interests of officers. Further detail regarding this can be found in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) Guidance Note - Rule alterations arising from new financial requirements under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009.

Another change is a requirement that all officers of registered organisations must complete approved training in relation to governance and financial administration. This training must be completed by 30 June 2014 for current officers and within six months of appointment for any new officers.

The FWC spokesperson says the main concern for many ROs is ensuring their officers complete the approved training in time. There are currently four training packages approved by the FWC’s general manager. One of these is a one day course offered around the country by the Australian Institute of Company Directors, called Governance and Finance for Registered Organisations. Courses tailored to a RO’s specific needs can also be provided In-Boardroom by Company Directors.

Other courses are being run by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Workers' Union and AiGroup.

The training needs to be completed by anyone who has financial management reporting responsibilities. This would include all board members or council members and executives who are responsible for reporting finances to boards or councils.

The FWC spokesperson notes: “If an officer fails to undertake approved training it could be regarded as a breach of an officer’s general duties in relation to the financial management of an organisation contained in Chapter 9, Div 2 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act. Breaches of this division attract civil penalties, which are currently $10,200 per contravention for an individual.

“Also, all registered organisations must include in their rules a requirement that officers undertake approved training. Failure to do so could result in a member applying to the Federal Court for an order for the performance or observance of any rules of the organisation.”

Meanwhile, the government is yet to announce details of an independent watchdog, the Registered Organisations Commission. It will have stronger investigative and information gathering powers, modelled on those available to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. It will have the power to commence legal proceedings and refer possible offences to prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.

For further information on officers’ duties, visit www.fwc.gov.au or contact FWC’s regulatory compliance branch at orgs@fwc.gov.au.

Model rules can be found here.


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