There is no doubt that 2013 was a huge year of change in respect of the laws applying to small and large businesses. This will continue throughout 2014. I recently presented the 2014 Business Legislation Update Seminar for the Australian Institute of Company Directors on the Sunshine Coast. Some of the key areas I addressed in this Seminar included:
- THE CONCLUSION OF THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD FOR THE PERSONAL PROPERTIES SECURITIES ACT 2009 (“PPSA”). The two year transitional period for the PPSA ended at midnight on 31 January 2014. Moving forward any security arrangement entered into prior to the introduction of the PPSA will now only be acknowledged on the Personal Properties Securities Register (“PPSR”) as at the date of registration, and not the date of creation.
- NEW PRIVACY LAWS. From 12 March 2014, the new Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 will commence. The previous National Privacy Principles have been revised and will now be the Australian Privacy Principles. There are several key differences with the new reforms. It is important that your businesses privacy policies are up to date.
- THE DIRECTORS LIABILITY REFORM AMENDMENT ACT 2013. This legislation reduces significantly the risk of liability of directors. Specifically it works to reduce the onus of proof in the director penalty provisions in approximately 86 pieces of legislation.
- ANTI-BULLYING LAWS UNDER THE FAIR WORK ACT 2009. As at 1 January 2014, a worker will now be able to make an application to the Fair Work Commission to stop bullying in the workplace. The Fair Work Commission has broad powers when dealing making orders, therefore, it is imperative that all businesses have a management system in place for bullying and that all workers are made aware of this system.
- ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT PLANS. The new provisions of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 commenced on 1 January 2014. These provisions specifically deal with additional requirements for business to maintain an Asbestos Management Plan when naturally occurring asbestos exists in the workplace.
- WORKCOVER. There have since been specific changes relating to the permanent impairment threshold, the definition of “worker” to align with the ATO definition, the ability to ask for claims histories, and many other changes. These changes will see reduced premiums.
It is imperative that all businesses are proactively considering the effects the above legislative changes and are acting accordingly.
If you have any questions or concerns relating to your business and its compliance with any new legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me.