18 September 2019

Company boards face up to increased regulation and risk

Regulatory reform continues apace for Australian companies in 2019 and building resilience is critical.

The Clyde & Co annual regulatory trends report has set out an overview of the latest challenges  Australia's businesses and boards face in the regulatory space, highlighting changes in corporate culture and workplace risks.

Culture focus

Avryl Lattin, corporate regulatory partner at Clyde & Co, says “Over the past year we have seen the passage of a significant amount of new legislation requiring businesses to enact new policies, processes and reporting frameworks.” Ms Lattin explains, “The changes are aimed at consumer protection, disclosure and accountability. Some of the changes come off the back of the Financial Services Royal Commission but there is a focus on corporate culture across the board and most of the new laws affect businesses operating in every sector.” She says, “Large increases to penalties and increased enforcement action by regulators are common themes across all areas of regulation. Those businesses that can build resilience to the changing regulatory landscape will have a real market advantage.”

Workplace risks

When it comes to workplace safety, the report found Queensland and Western Australia have significantly increased penalties for health and safety breaches. Michael Tooma, Australia managing partner at Clyde & Co, says “The trend is toward greater responsibilities, and higher penalties, for organisations which breach workplace safety requirements.” Mt Tooma explained, “The release of the Boland Report into workplace safety laws was a significant development, meaning organisations will increasingly need to manage complex workplace safety requirements. Organisations will also need to come to grips with specific legal requirements for proactively dealing with psychosocial risks.” He added, “Psychosocial issues impact significantly on employee health, yet are amongst the most difficult of workplace safety risks to manage."