Retailers must bear the onus of improving compliance with workplace laws as a string of organisations come under the spotlight for non-compliance, an expert says.

As Super Retail Group, Caltex and Lush come under investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman for underpaying staff and failing to comply with workplace guidelines, retailers must change their approach to compliance, an industry leader says.

With the retail sector the second most reported industry to the Fair Work Ombudsman, it is incumbent on retailers to ensure they’re complying with workplace laws.

Retailers must bear the bulk of responsibility for ensuring compliance, Steve Volz, Head of the APAC Retail & Hospitality Practice at Kronos says.

“While it’s important employees know their workplace rights, the onus is on employers to ensure their organisations are stringently aligned with Fair Work legislation,” he said.

Utilising automation is the key to improving compliance, particularly as it helps to eliminate human error, Mr Volz says.

“Businesses, particularly those in the retail sector where underpayment issues are rife, need to abandon manual HR processes and embrace automated, digital solutions, which are far more adept at navigating the intricacies of the Fair Work guidelines and eradicating the human error inherent in so many of these stories.”

This is particularly crucial as the Fair Work Ombudsman looks to implement several legislative changes, following a series of amendments over the past two years, making retailers particularly vulnerable to human error, according to Mr Volz.

“Fair Work have instigated several changes in legislation over the past 24 months, the vulnerable workers act being one that solely puts the onus onto the employer for the accurate keeping of records,” he said.

“Without systems in place to accurately track attendance and apply rules in relation to awards and agreements, employers leave themselves exposed to significant risk.”

According to Lindsay Carroll, the NRA’s Legal Practice Director and Deputy CEO, ensuring compliance is particularly crucial as the number of retailers caught out for workplace law breaches grows.

“Never before has compliance with industrial laws been so far at the forefront of the national consciousness, with cries of ‘wage theft’ from the union movement trickling into politics,” Ms Carroll said.

The increasingly complex nature of the award system makes it even more difficult for retailers to ensure compliance, she says.

“Nothing makes this clearer than the Fair Work Ombudsman’s own statistics, which indicate that the regulator prosecutes less than 5% of non-compliant workplaces they uncover for the very simple reason that the remaining 95% are not acting criminally, simply ignorantly.”