The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (the RO Act) requires organisations and the officers and branches of organisations to make disclosures concerning remuneration, non-cash benefits and payments to related parties and declared persons or bodies. Compliance with this framework is important to ensure high levels of transparency for the members of registered organisations and the wider community.
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How to encourage officers to disclose remuneration and benefits
This is a similar question to sharing conflicts of interest.
First, you need to educate officers on the definitions and requirements. Identify which officers make the basic disclosures and which are required to make fuller disclosures as officers with financial duties.
Then you can build processes that lead to a culture where disclosures are easy and a matter of habit:
- Have a clear policy that explains the requirements under the RO Act, the definitions and provide examples.
- Make sure all officers are aware of your list of related parties so they know what to disclose.
- Have a standing item at regular meetings. This doesn’t need to be every meeting, like conflicts, but make it routine.
- Ensure senior leaders are seen to share their remuneration and related parties. Make sure you ask around the meeting, some people are nervous to speak up in groups.
- Create a form that makes disclosing remuneration and other benefits easy and self explanatory, rather than leaving it to an officer to guess what must be included.
- Provide practical (anonymised) examples of disclosures that need to be disclosed that have arisen in your organisation.
- Transparency creates a cultural pressure to make disclosures and normalises talking about financial benefits.
- Have a standard form that is sent around regularly that outlines what needs to be disclosed, consider including what the organisation already knows about particular officers so they don’t need to start from scratch each time, this can jog their memories.
- Collect NIL disclosures. Remember organisations are required to report NIL disclosures to the regulator.
- Encourage and welcome questions, some people aren’t sure when their interest is big enough or important enough or who related parties are.
- Have an officer and related party champion who can sit down with an officer and answer questions, explain the decision making restrictions and record keeping requirements.
- Remind officers that this process is for the protection of members and effective decision making.
- Send around routine reminders and require responses. When officers change their personal interests, telling their organisation isn’t always front-of-mind.
- Have a standard form as part of your new officer induction to capture standing disclosures from day one and inform officers of their ongoing requirements.
- Have a standard form as officers leave so you can collect their information and update their interests.
- Consider personal reminders to officers with financial duties, such as the Committee of Management, letting them know what the organisation is aware of and whether they want to update it?
- Have a person who is responsible for monitoring and updating related party registers.
Useful tip: ORP statements are public
Make sure officers are aware that anything contained in the officer and related party statement will be made public and this can attract scrutiny.
Organisations can help officers prepare for any questions or attention they may receive.
There are also steps you should take as an organisation if you have branches or officers being paid at different levels of the organisation or by related parties.
- Set in place processes to exchange information that is required for officer and related party statements.
- Have a central and consistent policy on what is disclosed at each level.
- Have a policy on how you reflect income the officer is required to pay to the organisation.
- Be clear on your obligations for outgoing officers.