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Acclime Corporate Snapshot – March 2024.

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This edition of Acclime Corporate Snapshot covers a range of workplace regulation and governance updates in Australia. The key stories include the findings of the review into SafeWork NSW, the right to disconnect for employees enshrined in new legislation, and the introduction of mandatory climate-related financial disclosures.

Review of SafeWork NSW delivers findings

Two years after it was commissioned, the NSW state government’s independent review of SafeWork NSW has handed down its final report.

The comprehensive 126-page document provides a sweeping survey of NSW workplace safety. In total, 46 of its recommendations have been accepted, including the adoption of a system enabling it to access claims data held by workers’ compensation insurers, increasing its enforcement activities against workplace psychosocial hazards, and becoming a separate regulatory arm.

ASIC grants a no-action position on unfair contract terms

In response to an urgent application by the Australian Financial Markets Association (AFMA), ASIC has agreed to a no-action position for a limited class of institutional markets. The application came in the wake of ASIC’s widely-publicised unfair contract terms reforms in November of last year.

AFMA launched the application out of concern that the modified unfair contracts regime would affect some sophisticated financial entities that aren’t the consumers or small businesses the regime intended to cover. The class no-action letter issued by ASIC specifies those entities that are given exemption.

More employment loopholes closed

The second tranche of the federal government’s Closing Loopholes (No.2) Bill has now passed parliament.

This second suite of Loopholes reforms addresses casual employment, more refinements to the bargaining regime as it relates to multi-employer bargaining and intractable bargaining declaration processes, a new employee right to disconnect, and gig economy and road transport industry rules.

The right to disconnect will come into force mid-year while the bargaining reforms are already active.

The Bill’s right-to-disconnect aspect captured the most media attention: It protects employees who refuse to respond to attempts by their employer or third parties (like customers, clients, suppliers, or others) to contact them outside work hours.

There’s quite a bit of detail on the right-to-disconnect concept – you can read more about how it operates here.

Who is picking up the phone when ASX calls?

ASX has issued a reminder of its Listing Rule 12.6, which requires that a listed entity must appoint a person responsible for communication in relation to listing matters.

That person must be available on short notice and have their up-to-date contact details posted on ASX Online because that person must be available all day and one hour each side of market hours; WA or NZ-based contact persons need to be by the phone as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m., respectively.

The reminder has been issued because of ASX’s finding that contact persons were not responding to communications over the holiday period.

Climate-related financial disclosure arrives in Australia

A new Treasury exposure draft bill seeks to alter the Corporations Act to create disclosure obligations upon certain entities relating to climate.

Entities falling within a prescribed definition will have to make disclosures relating to climate in accordance with sustainability standards published by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB).

The bill requires the entities to prepare a ‘sustainability report’ for each financial year, along with financial statements, notes to those statements, and a director’s declaration, all of which would form part of the annual financial report.

This comprehensive report from Miriam Kleiner at Ashurst explains the entities affected and the nature of the obligations.

Cyber-security remains at the top of the list of director concerns and ASX Corporate Governance Principles under review

AICD’s Director Sentiment Index research confirms – again – that cybercrime and security are the predominant worry for Australian company directors.

In related news, the Department of Home Affairs has started a new consultation on cyber security regulatory reform, aiming to legislate key elements of the new national cyber strategy. AICD has had input into discussions with the government about the direction in which the reforms are taking.

A new 5th Edition of the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations is set to be released for stakeholder comment in the coming weeks.  Acclime will provide a further update on developments and a comparison between the 4th and 5th addition requirements in a stand alone update – watch this space!

An update on the reforms and AICD’s involvement can be found in AICD’s most recent ASX Update.

 

Sources of information: Governance Institute of Australia, Ashurst, Australian Securities Exchange Ltd (ASX); Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC); Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

Disclaimer: Acclime Corporate Snapshot is only intended to provide a general overview of matters of interest. It is not intended to be comprehensive and is not legal advice. Acclime Australia attempts to ensure content is current, but we do not guarantee its currency. You should seek legal and/or professional advice before acting or relying on any content.

Acclime Corporate Snapshot – March 2024

About Acclime.

Acclime helps established multinational companies and startups start and operate their business in Australia and the APAC region. By seamlessly navigating our clients through the complexities of Australian laws and bureaucracy, we allow them to reclaim valuable time and fully focus on growing and developing their business.