An induction program is an essential component of promoting good governance in your organisation. A comprehensive induction program helps to create a smooth transition for your organisation when there's turnover – for example, elections or resignations – and reduces the loss of experience and corporate knowledge.
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An induction program welcomes officers to your organisation, introduces them to your compliance culture and equips them with the tools and information they need to understand and perform their roles.
Officer induction is similar to induction for new employees of a company. The person may have never been an officer of a registered organisation before, or they may have recently been elected or appointed to a new office with a greater level of responsibility. New officers are often unfamiliar with the way things are done in the organisation.
The start of their term of office is an ideal time to educate them about your policies, procedures and expectations.
Useful tip: A good induction program protects your organisation, your officers and can reinforce your speak-up culture
Having new officers make responsible decisions from day one, fully informed of their obligations minimises the risk of mistakes or misconduct for the entire organisation and reduces the likelihood that the organisation or individual officers will breach the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (the RO Act).
An induction program also lets you begin to foster a culture where officers are encouraged to speak up about concerns, know how to act on complaints they receive and properly understand that the complaint isn’t an insult to the organisation but an opportunity to make improvements.
What induction should cover
New officers must understand the duties they have under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (the RO Act) as officers of a registered organisation. You should educate officers about these duties as part of the induction program.
Useful tip: Your induction should also include practical tips for officers
This helps them perform their roles, such as:
- where to find the rules of the organisation
- how to access minutes
- how meetings are undertaken.
This is essential information for your officer to ensure they hit the ground running and be a responsible, productive decision maker in your organisation.
To help new officers of organisations understand their obligations, responsibilities and the compliance timeframes under the RO Act, the Commission has prepared an officer induction kit.
The Commission recommends officers access the induction kit through its website rather than downloading it as it is frequently updated with the most up-to-date resources. The officer induction kit has an index with hyperlinks to our fact sheets and guidance notes, such as the officer duties fact sheet, our guide to understanding financial statements, and our fact sheet about conducting meetings.
Note that the induction kit isn't a comprehensive list of all the requirements, obligations, and responsibilities of officers. It's a useful starting point for officers to learn about their obligations.
Useful tip: Include organisation responsibilities and good governance processes
There are often responsibilities that new officers might not have encountered before like:
- using an organisation credit card and keeping receipts
- approving travel and other expenses
- ensuring privacy requirements are met
- taking complaints
- speaking up in meetings with questions or conflicts
- making proper decisions
- understanding risk and risk mitigation.
Information and training on all these procedures and ideas during the induction will be essential for new officers.
Financial training for officers with financial management duties
New officers of an organisation with financial management duties need to complete financial training within 6 months of taking office. This is a requirement under the RO Act. More information is in the officer financial training fact sheet.
The mandatory financial training should be run in addition to your officer induction training. It's a small but vital part of what your officers must learn to responsibly lead your organisation.
Useful tip: You can have financial training refreshers
Some organisations have their officers take the financial training on a regular basis as a refresher on their obligations and to learn about any changes in the law. You might consider having officers who hold the same office for more than 2 years take a refresher course.
Recognising officers with financial management duties
For many reasons, it's important to know which officers have financial management duties. This doesn’t change from election to election, it’s not the people but the office itself that has responsibility for the duties.
To determine whether an officer has financial duties (and needs to undertake approved financial training) you'll need to refer to the rules of your organisation. Examples of financial duties include:
- the ability of an officer or group of officers to enter into contracts
- authorisation of spending
- making donations
- purchasing or disposing of property
- incurring liabilities on behalf of the organisation or branch.
If an officer of your organisation has one or more of these duties, they'll need to undertake approved training within 6 months of taking office or get an exemption if eligible.
Useful tip: The committee of management
All members of the committee of management have financial duties regardless of whether they’re paid or in a voluntary role. This is because they approve the financial reports and other expenses.