The recent Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry clearly demonstrated the consequences that can occur when businesses fail to maintain adequate records of their actions. The Commission was established in late 2017 by the Australian government, and the final report and the government’s response were made public in February 2019.
Amongst the many findings, the Royal Commission highlighted a significant lack of diligence relating to record keeping practices across the sector. It found that some financial services businesses could not demonstrate how a given piece of advice or action (for example, changing financial products) was consistent with their duty to act in the best interests of the customer. This meant that it was virtually impossible to explain to the customer, and subsequently the regulator, that the business was indeed compliant with their duty.
While the actual findings are specific to the Banking Royal Commission, they provide valuable learnings for any business – particularly the importance of well maintained documentation and records as they relate to compliance obligations.
For example, consider the negligence uncovered by a financial audit of George Calombaris’ collection of restaurants. An investigation by Fair Work Australia found that over a period of six years, 515 people employed by his various businesses were underpaid by a total of $7.8 million. Referring to the underpayments, Calombaris stated it was due to inadequate processes and back-end systems.
It’s clearly important to ensure that your business maintains accurate, compliant and easily accessible records, but what do you need to do in order to achieve this in the most effective way, without being burdened by unnecessary processes and procedures?
Keeping a range of good records can directly assist your business, particularly those regarding budgeting, cash flow and keeping track of general business health, which all contribute towards assisting with making sound business decisions. Likewise, legal records and employee records help to protect your business and respond to compliance issues. With regulations varying between industries it is critical that you understand those that apply directly to your business – you need to bring together the compliance objectives of authorities and your organisation.
System and processes
From here, company-wide policies should be developed. Next, processes need to be agreed, documented, communicated to those responsible for implementation, then monitored for ongoing compliance. Everyone involved in your business should be aware of business obligations and their role in adhering to regulatory requirements. There should be no room for lapses based on excuses due to inadequate processes and systems.
Security and privacy
If your business is required to collect and monitor important employee data (for example, industry specific licences and tickets), you also need to be aware of the systems in which this data is stored, accessed and handled. Information should be easily accessible if you are asked to prove compliance by relevant authorities, but secure and protected to minimise the risk of a data breach.
Managing mandatory documentation for an entire workforce can be particularly complex and time consuming. A robust system allows your employees to confidently provide sensitive information for storage, safe in the knowledge that there won’t be any potential compromise to their data. Encrypting records or password protecting them (or both) are a key part of ensuring records are secure and only viewable by those that require access. Security should be a key consideration of your record keeping processes. Click here if you would like to know more about why identity security and privacy in the workplace is becoming increasingly important.
The final consideration regarding good record keeping practices is being aware of the length of time you are required to store documents in order to meet the compliance needs of the government department, regulatory body or organisation requiring the information. An efficient destruction policy ensures your system will remain streamlined and relevant, facilitating faster searches and avoiding the storage and administration of unnecessary documentation.
Once your legal obligations are understood, and policies and procedures have been agreed to, an effective document management system can assist with implementing and automating highly specialised business processes.
WorkPro’s licence, ticket and document management software has been specifically designed to reduce tedious administrative tasks and data entry (also highly subject to human error). With a specific focus on workforce compliance and managing mandatory health and safety obligations, the streamlined, online platform offers a powerful dashboard that allows businesses to quickly view, check, track and manage all employee licences, tickets and documents.
Don’t place your business at risk of missing of important document expiries and renewals – set up and confidently rely on automatic reminders. Use notifications, custom labels and powerful filtering to facilitate searches and reporting, as you need it. If you’re seeking to implement a powerful document management system in your business, that is suited to the needs of your industry and can be used in the way your business requires, then learn more about the WorkPro platform here.