Audit of Licensee Workplace Obligations In Process

Currently a random selection of 50 Licensees across Australia are being audited, for an on behalf of Australia Post by PKF, in an endeavour to discover if the entire LPO network might have systemic issues with compliance of the current workplace obligations under the 2017 Vulnerable Workers Act. Should the current, randomly selected range of Licensees show systemic issues, this audit will be sweeping through every LPO, and we will all be experiencing this nightmare personally. LPOG fully supports the compliance with workplace obligations, however LPOG has been asserting since the Act was first drafted, that we need far more clarity around what constitutes compliance for our industry. We are not a run of the mill retail business that fits neatly into the box. Especially if the Licensees happens to be an employee of their trading entity, and could not possibly pay award wages with overtime and entitlements and meet all the other expenses required to keep the LPO afloat. 

It is an awful experience and LPOG would suggest if you have been party to this audit, do not isolate yourself, thinking you are an island unto yourself. So far there has been very few Licensees that we are aware of, that have been through the process, that have not felt uncomfortable with the process in varying degrees.

Prior to the 2017 Fair Work Amendment https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/legislation/the-fair-work-system/protecting-vulnerable-workers-reform  Licensees and their employees' wages and other entitlements were not considered part of Australia Post's obligations. As small business owners, our obligations were to pay the appropriate wages as per the award relevant to our employees, as per the terms of our LPO Agreement. Any audits were done by the relevant authority, usually in response to any complaints made by employees, disgruntled or otherwise. There was previously no overall obligation for compliance of workplace obligations placed on any franchisor under the FCC, until the 7/11 wage exploitation mess erupted in 2016/17.

In 2003, the Postal Services Industry Award was established and many LPOs were logged under that award, and we were then expected to pay under that award if we were not an inconjunction LPO. In 2010 Fair Work began the process to simplify the vast range of awards and enterprise instruments, such as the Postal Services Industry Award, and replace most with a much smaller range of modern awards to cover most employees, to establish national standards. As a result, LPO's employees transitioned to the GRIA and in 2014 the Postal Services Industry Award was terminated.  

Since the VW Act was first raised, it has provided much robust debate on the practicalities of the legislation and how it will impact the operations of the LPO. This audit program is showcasing the realities of that debate. How do we comply if we are a designated employee of our trading entity and work 60+ hours per week? Who will be paying the overtime? Will we get double commission pay after the first 38 hours of the working week/opening hours? Suspect that would be a NO, but how then do we afford the compliance? 

LPOG would be interested in any data relating to this mass audit if any Licensee is keen to share. Also, happy to support Licensees under stress over the whole process, especially at this time with all the other pressures we are dealing with. Check in if you need support. Please don't think you need to go it alone. LPOG is all about connecting Licensees and supporting each other through the good and the hard times.