The absence of a robust system for compliance management can have grave consequences, including loss of operating licenses, personal liability and even imprisonment.
Risks occur when staff and contractors operating across the organisation are unaware of the prevailing operating requirements and their individual obligations. In the absence of such understanding, the law may be broken and greater damage may result. This includes:
· The occurrence of workplace accidents and incidents
· The illegal disclosure of private information.
· Workplace bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment
· Malpractice and misconduct
· Collusive behaviour
· False or misleading advertising
· Improper security and emergency management
· Violation of operating license requirements
· Breaches of policies and procedures
· Financial mismanagement & breach of fiduciary duty
· Conflicts of interest
The consequences of poor compliance management are equally serious. These include
· Injury and death in the workplace
· Loss of operating licenses or enforceable undertakings
· Loss of income
· Other imposed corrective actions
· Disqualification of office holders
· Civil and criminal penalties
· Vexatious claims
· Vicarious liability
· Brand damage
Litigation will increase. Law firms such as Slater and Gordon, who recently listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, are coming to the aid of employees who believe they have cases which can be prosecuted against employers as a result of damage sustained in the workplace. Law firms such as Slater and Gordon provide plaintiffs with ‘No Win- No Fee ™’ avenues of legal recourse which can fuel a rapid growth in action against employers.
Recent Corporate Examples
A snapshot of possible consequences is reflected in the following news headlines:
· “ACT becomes first jurisdiction where an employer can be convicted of industrial manslaughter if proven criminally negligent or reckless in the death of a worker”.
· “Workplace bullies cost Victorian State Government $1,000,000 during last year”.
· “NSW Police Service fined damages for sex discrimination and harassment”.
· “The IR Commission of NSW has fined the Salvation Army for breach of OHS obligations”.
· “Victorian cinema operator to stand trial over $1,170,000 fraud”.
· “ASIC prosecutes 20 directors in Sydney”