Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Why Tatts is asking retailers questions about employee pay and conditions

Mark Fletcher
November 27th, 2017 · 10 Comments

Newsagents have been wondering why Tatts is expressing interest in employee arrangements in newsagency businesses. I have had plenty of questions and I know others have too.

This situation has come about because of the federal government passing vulnerable employee legislation following the 7-Eleven debacle. The Fair Work Ombudsman website sets the scene:

On 15 September 2017 the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 took effect. It makes the following changes to the Fair Work Act 2009external-icon.png (the Fair Work Act):

  • increase penalties for ‘serious contraventions’ of workplace laws

  • make it clear that employers can’t ask for ‘cashback’ from employees or prospective employees

  • increase penalties for breaches of record-keeping and pay slip obligations

  • employers who don’t meet record-keeping or pay slip obligations and can’t give a reasonable excuse will need to disprove wage claims made in a court (this is also referred to as a reverse onus of proof)

  • strengthen our powers to collect evidence in investigations

  • introduce new penalties for giving us false or misleading information, or hindering or obstructing our investigations.

Read what the Fair Work Ombudsman website has to say about franchisors that have a significant amount of influence or control over the business affairs of the franchisee:

These changes apply from 27 October 2017.

Franchisors and holding companies (a company that has control over subsidiary companies) can be held responsible if their franchisee or subsidiary doesn’t follow workplace laws about minimum entitlements, the National Employment Standards, awards, sham contracting, record-keeping and pay slips.

This will apply to franchisors that have a significant amount of influence or control over the business affairs of the franchisee.

Franchisors or holding companies could be liable for breaches or underpayments if:

  • they knew (or could have reasonably known) that a franchisee or subsidiary wasn’t following workplace laws
  • they didn’t take reasonable steps to prevent it.

We are working with franchisors, their advocate and advisers and will have more information in our Help for franchises section when the changes take effect.

Tatts is acting because of an understanding of that term – significant amount of influence or control over the business affairs of the franchisee.

It’s not only Tatts caught in this. Any business that can be claimed to have a significant amount of influence or control over a downstream business is in the cross hairs.

I think there will be plenty more news and engagement about this in the channel river the next few months.

The challenge is the definition: significant amount of influence or control. It is not as clear as it could be. Some politicians say the Fair Work Ombudsman has overreached. We will have to see how that plays out.

There is plenty of advice online outlining the obligations for franchisors and organisations like Tatts outlets.

For a government that said it would reduce red tape for small business, this legislation is considerably adding to it.


Category: Newsagency management

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Colin, Malvern SA // Nov 27, 2017 at 6:38 AM

    Not just the Fair Work links that now has my attention.

    For some time now we have been receiving a weekly email on marketing for coming days. These emails ask us to forward on the instructions to employees and thereby in the process provide Tatts with employee contact details. At least that is my reading of the situation.

    Will now look at more closely.


  • 2 Mark Fletcher // Nov 27, 2017 at 6:57 AM

    Colin it’s a can of worms with some saying the reach Fair Work is driving is considerably beyond the intent of the legislators.

    Politicians said they would reduce red tape.


  • 3 Jim // Nov 27, 2017 at 11:02 AM

    Fair work australia is an independent body mark. Government has no control. Stop your lefty lies.


  • 4 Mark Fletcher // Nov 27, 2017 at 8:46 PM

    Jim it is the politicians who have commented that the implementation in some areas is not as intended. No lies in the post.


  • 5 Amanda // Nov 27, 2017 at 9:12 PM

    What are they going to do… I mean really?

    We are one of two Tatts franchisees in our shopping centre. The other operator was given a franchise yet does not pay staff penalty rates, or superannuation.

    Will Tatts take the franchise off that retailer…I strongly doubt it.


  • 6 Mark Fletcher // Nov 27, 2017 at 9:21 PM

    Amanda I think Tatts’ action will depend on how employees use the provisions in the legislation. All it would take is for one company like Tatts to get drawn into a fair work case for it to ramp up their engagement with franchises. Their actions on compliance has been stringent. Maybe that is a guide.


  • 7 Tedd // Nov 30, 2017 at 9:44 AM

    Are we an agent or a franchise? Is there any difference


  • 8 Mark Fletcher // Nov 30, 2017 at 1:53 PM

    Tedd in the context of the vulnerable workers legislation, a franchise. Depending on your relationships, you could be a franchise of multiple businesses, adding to your overhead.


  • 9 MARK R // Nov 30, 2017 at 3:00 PM

    The paragraph you left out states, for a franchisor who only has influence over part of the business such as Tatts its uncertain yet how this will play out.

    Fair Work wants employers to comply with pay rates ,pay slips ect. that is a given and Fair Work already audit businesses . Obviously it is vital businesses comply with all work place issues this includes wages and employee expenses.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the ANF cease putting out payrate scales because the risk of inadvertanly putting out the wrong pay rates might come back to bite them


  • 10 Mark Fletcher // Nov 30, 2017 at 3:03 PM

    Mark I included some excerpts from the Fair Work website. I provided the link for people to research further.

    The actions flowing from the Vulnerable Employees legislation will go far beyond pay rates, pay slips etc. This is the advice from Fair Work.

    ALN is well across this and actively lobbying on it.


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