Increasingly, businesses are being held accountable for the conduct of their supply chain partners, the classic examples being the 7 eleven franchisee non-compliances and others like cleaning and trolley collection contractors linked to major retailers such as Coles, Myer and Woolworths.

Ms Natalie James, the Fair Work Ombudsman has made it clear that, where they find non-compliances they will explore the supply chain and hold supply chain principals accountable for demonstrating they have done the right thing.

Compliance involves a lot more than just having a policy or procedure for doing something. It must be legally valid, it must be implemented in practice, people must be aware of it and those with roles to play in it have to be trained in how to do that the right way.

So it isn’t enough to require undertakings to comply as part of a contractual arrangement – businesses really need to verify compliance if they are to mitigate and manage the risks effectively. Importantly, you need to be sure that, based on the rate you are paying a contractor, that contractor can meet compliance obligations to their people.

Ridgeline HR can help to do this by undertaking compliance assessments along the supply chain to verify that each link is compliant and not going to cause you embarrassing moments with the authorities and the wider community.

We do this via a comprehensive workplace relations compliance survey tool tailored to the industry and collecting a range of the contractor or franchise business’s employment contracts and records for review, providing a detailed report on the outcomes with recommendations for any corrective actions required.

As part of the process with supply chain reviews, we can also conduct an assessment of whether the fees being paid to the contracting business are sufficient to enable them to meet their legal obligations to their people. This service is useful in providing evidence of the compliance of the principal and to avoid accessorial liability for any failures by the contractor to meet their legal obligations to workers (whether nominally employees or contractors).

Where appropriate and at the direction of our clients, we might also attend the franchisee or contractor premises and and interview a selection of their people to verify what happens in practice and that it is all above board.

Ensuring that you and your partners meet your compliance obligations protects your brand and provides your people with confidence in your integrity. That is how it contributes to making better workplaces.