On the 1st of March 2017 the Turnbull Government introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 (Amendment Bill). Thus giving effect to their election commitment to protect vulnerable workers from exploitative and unfair practices in the workplace.
The proposed Bill, in its current form seeks to ensure that Franchisors (or Holding Companies) have taken reasonable steps to be aware of, and reactive to, the Workplace practices of their Franchisees (or subsidiaries). The new provisions will stand in addition to the existing accessorial liability provisions of the Fair Work Act.
The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that Franchisors:
- where they exercise a reasonable level of control over the Franchisees affairs, are responsible for contraventions by the Franchisees;
- that Franchisors cannot claim ignorance or ignore the Workplace practices of their Franchisees;
- will be held liable where they ought to have reasonable knowledge that a contravention was likely to occur; and
- train and audit Franchisees to adhere to modern awards and enterprise agreements, minimum wages and ensure they are no failures in making or keeping employee records and payslips.