On the 6th October last year, after a series of media reports on the Fundraising sector, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) published a media release announcing that an Inquiry into charity collections was underway. Specifically, it was announced that the FWO would be scrutinising major Australian charity organisations and the specialist sales and marketing companies that these charities were outsourcing their fundraising to.
On behalf of our clients and the direct sales industry, immediately after learning of the announcement, Certica® reached out to the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and Senator Michaelia Cash’s office to understand the implications and practical operations of this Inquiry.
Of concern at the time was:
- the inclusion of the National Union of Workers (NUW) in the media release; and
- that no terms of reference had been announced to provide critical details about the Inquiry.
Following on from our repeated calls for a copy of the terms of reference and more information, ACCI were able to secure a stakeholders meeting with the relevant FWO Directors on behalf of their members. Certica® attended this stakeholder teleconference, alongside other industry groups.
The stakeholder meeting highlighted that there was not, nor will there be, a set terms of reference for the Inquiry. It appeared that the scope of the Inquiry had also shifted. Rather than the original seven (7) major charities that were to be scrutinised, the list had been reduced to just three (3). Furthermore, it seemed that the focus would be more on the sales and marketing companies involved in the supply chain, rather than the charities themselves.
The FWO confirmed that the Inquiry focus this calendar year would be on audits and information gathering. The FWO will be implementing a top-down, bottom-up approach, meaning that not only will they interview the charity and sales companies, but also the individual contractors and employees engaged in the industry.
The audits will focus on:
- Supply chain: Who is involved and what money is flowing down?
- Fair rates: Is there enough money flowing down to ensure fair rates are being received by the individuals? If there isn’t, where is the money being absorbed?
- Bullying and harassment: What policies are in place and what practical steps are being implemented to ensure workplace harmony?
- Award compliance: Are employees being paid correctly, including penalty rates, overtime and leave provisions?
- Record keeping: Are companies keeping accurate and comprehensive employee records, including timesheets, break notices, leave notices, payslips, etc.?