The Registration and Accountability of Organisations Schedule (Schedule 1 to the Workplace Relations Act 1996) [the RAO Schedule], generally comes into operation on 12 May 2003. The RAO Schedule contains most of the matters previously dealt with in the body of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 [the Act], which related to the registration and functioning of organisations of employers and employees under the Act. The Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) (Consequential Provisions) Act 2002 [the RAOCP Act], deals with various transitional provisions arising from the introduction of the RAO Schedule.
The RAO Schedule introduces new penalty arrangements for breaching the Schedule.
Increased reliance on civil penalties
Financial and reporting obligations - the RAO Schedule changes most breaches of financial reporting and record keeping obligations from criminal offences to civil penalties. The Industrial Registrar can bring proceedings to enforce these new penalties and an organisation can intervene in proceedings for penalties (sections 305 and 310).
Penalty levels - The level of penalties have been changed to bring them into line with the levels of penalties in other Commonwealth legislation. Individuals who breach the Schedule can be liable for penalties of up to $2,200 and organisations and other corporate bodies can face penalties of up to $11,000.
Criminal offences - Criminal offences, with higher penalties, have been retained for certain breaches of the RAO Schedule such as bribery or intimidation in election ballots or coercing employees who are attempting to form a union.
Who can apply - The Industrial Registrar is responsible for investigating and prosecuting breaches of the civil penalty provisions (section 310). Criminal offences are the responsibility of the Australian Federal Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Compensation orders - the Federal Court can order a person who has breached his or her duties in relation to financial management of an organisation to compensate an organisation that has suffered damage because of that breach (s307).
Injunctions - the Court can make injunctions to prevent damage from occurring, rather than only being able to impose a penalty once damage has occurred (s308).
Who can apply - the Industrial Registrar and an affected organisation can apply for a compensation order (s310).
This material has been prepared by the Australian Industrial Registry as a general guide to the Workplace Relations (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) legislation. This material should not be treated as advice on the circumstances of any particular case. This material does not have any legal status; the relevant law is set out in Schedule 1 to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the RAO Schedule), the RAO Schedule Regulations and the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) (Consequential Provisions) Act 2002.