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The biggest compliance risks in Australia right now

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Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager
2017-08-25

Australian businesses are currently operating in an increasingly complex risk and compliance landscape – and that’s not set to change any time soon. In fact, upcoming changes to laws around data breaches have been a serious prompt for Aussie companies to get up-to-date with compliance rules.

All organisations, no matter whether you’re a tiny startup or a large multinational corporation, need to be compliant with the regulations of their industry. In 2017, it’s more important than ever for employers to ensure they comply with fast-changing regulations.

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Why is this so important? To begin with, there are serious consequences of non-compliance, including legal proceedings, fines and penalties, and the loss of income and reputation. But paying attention to compliance is also a positive step for building your business.

Sarah Bartholomeusz, founder and CEO of You Legal law firm, sums it up well.

Compliance and risk management don’t sound very sexy but they are crucial to having a sound business and are drivers to achieving business excellence – we call it future-proofing,” she says.

To help you understand more about this topic, we’ve outlined the biggest compliance risks facing Australian organisations right now. This will shed more light on particular areas you need to be compliant in, so you can start future-proofing your business.

Safeguarding against data breaches           

Those changes to data breach laws we just mentioned?

Well, Australian companies could now face paying civil penalties of an amount up to $1.8 million, making it one of the biggest compliance risks for businesses at present.

These changes have been made to increase the level of security for individuals, protecting customer data that companies have access to. Organisations will now have to prove that they are taking this issue seriously. Once enacted into law on 22 February 2018, businesses that fail to show they have the right measures in place – or are at least making efforts to – will face serious fines.

To minimise this risk, make sure you’re educating staff about data security and compliance. Investing some time and money in compliance training is worth the investment, to make sure your business is safeguarding against the event of a data breach.

Protecting your company against cyber attacks

Throughout 2017, we’ve also seen various countries across the world affected by major cyber attacks involving ransomware. The ransomware, believed to be a malicious computer virus known as Petya, wreaked havoc on more than 200,000 organizations in over 150 countries – including companies, universities, government agencies and hospitals across Britain, Spain, Portugal, Russia and Ukraine.

Since this global ransomware attack hit Australia a couple of months ago, disrupting the operations of a number of Australian businesses, a lot more discussion around cyber attacks and compliance has been generated.

Again, make sure you’re training staff around this issue, as being prepared with increased cyber security is your best line of defense. Learn more about the precautions you can take to protect yourself and your business from malicious ransomware and the risk of cyber attack.

Keeping employees safe in the workplace

We’ve talked about being compliant with technology, but compliance is also critical when it comes to the human side of things – your employees.

Employees are “one of the most important elements of every business and because they bring with them a host of legal obligations.”

If you run a company or organisation, you’re responsible for providing your employees with a safe workplace, free from any hazards and health risks. Australian companies face considerable fines and business impacts if they fail to be compliant with current safety laws and regulations. Employers also need to provide appropriate workplace safety training, such as PPE awareness, for all staff.

Look also at the policies you have in place around sexual harassment, bullying and all forms of discrimination. Under Australian law, we all have a legal right to live and work free from harassment and discrimination based on gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Make sure you have strong policies in place around these subjects, and that employee training is ongoing to remind staff of these key messages.

Check your compliance regularly

Bartholomeusz recommends all Australian businesses do regular compliance housekeeping, to make sure they’re still up-to-date with all legislation and regulations. This is particularly critical if your business is growing.

Perhaps your company took on more employees and has a higher turnover?  These are excellent indicators of growth and success but also have the potential to attract new legal obligations,” she says.

There are plenty of compliance training courses available online, if you’d like to learn more about this important issue. You can also click the ‘Compliance’ tag above, to see more articles from Go1 on this topic.

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