Fact Sheet No. 06/2003 7 May 2003, Australian Industrial Registry

Registration and Accountability of Organisations Legislation Fact Sheet

Accounting, Auditing and Reporting Obligations

The Registration and Accountability of Organisations Schedule (Schedule 1 to the Workplace Relations Act 1996) [the RAO Schedule], generally comes into operation on 12 May 2003. The RAO Schedule contains most of the matters previously dealt with in the body of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 [the Act], which relate to the registration and functioning of organisations of employers and employees under the Act. The Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) (Consequential Provisions) Act 2002 [the RAOCP Act], deals with various transitional provisions arising from the introduction of the Schedule.

Application of obligations

The accounting, auditing and reporting obligations set out in Chapter 8, Part 3 of the RAO Schedule apply to each reporting unit of an organisation (s242) in relation to a financial year of the organisation that commences on or after commencement of the reporting guidelines (item 44(1) of RAOCP Act) unless the reporting unit obtains an exemption in relation to the financial year (s271).

Reduced reporting requirements may apply to a reporting unit:-

The corresponding obligations set out in Part IX, Division 11 of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 continue to apply to an organisation or a branch of an organisation in relation to a financial year that had started, but had not ended, before commencement of the reporting guidelines (item 47(1) of the RAOCP Act).

Outline of obligations

The accounting, auditing and reporting obligations are to:-

In addition, the Commission on application of a member of a reporting unit may make an order authorising the applicant or another person on the applicant's behalf to inspect the financial records of the reporting unit.

The Commission must be satisfied that the applicant is acting in good faith and that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting a breach of the accounting, auditing or reporting obligations including the reporting guidelines or a rule of the reporting unit relating to its finances or financial administration.

What is a financial year of an organisation?

A financial year, in relation to an organisation, is the period of 12 months commencing on 1 July in any year or another period of 12 months as is provided in the rules of the organisation (s6). In limited circumstances, a financial year of an organisation can be a period other than 12 months, that is where the rules of an organisation change its financial year (s240).

What is a reporting unit?

Section 242 provides that a reporting unit may be the whole of an organisation or a part of an organisation.

Clarification as to the members, employees, rules, financial affairs and records, conduct and activities, and the journal of a reporting unit is provided in s244.

Organisation not divided into branches

Where an organisation is not divided into branches, the reporting unit is the whole of the organisation.

Organisation divided into branches

Where an organisation is divided into branches:-

Determination of reporting units - application by organisation

An organisation divided into branches may make an application under section 246 to the Industrial Registrar to determine the reporting units of the organisation on an alternative basis so that the accounting, auditing and reporting obligations do not apply individually to each branch though each branch must be in one, and only one, reporting unit (ss242(4)).

Regulation 153 sets out the requirements for the application including provision of:

The application must be accompanied by an application for the Industrial Registrar to certify such alterations to the rules of the organisation as are required to give effect to the establishment of the proposed reporting units.

The Industrial Registrar must approve the proposed division into reporting units if the Registrar is satisfied amongst other things that the level of financial information that would be available to members under the proposed division would be adequate and would be relevant to them.

An alternative division into reporting units approved by the Industrial Registrar would apply in relation to the first financial year starting after the certificate is issued and each subsequent financial year unless before the start of the financial year the certificate is revoked (see section 249 and Regs 155, 156 and 157).

Exemption of certain reporting units

If on application of a reporting unit under section 271 a Registrar is satisfied that a reporting unit does not have any financial affairs in a financial year the reporting unit may be exempted from the accounting, auditing and reporting requirements for that year.

The application must be made to a Registrar within 90 days, or such longer period as the Registrar allows, after the end of the financial year. The Registrar must consider whether the reporting unit itself or another reporting unit of the organisation or any person or body corporate or trust expends economic resources or incurs financial obligations so that the reporting unit may conduct its activities (Reg 165).

Reduced reporting requirements for particular reporting units

Reporting units with substantial common membership with State registered bodies

Section 269 applies to a reporting unit where there is an associated State body which:-

(a) is registered or recognised under industrial relations legislation of the States of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia or Tasmania (Reg 163);

(b) has substantially the same members; and

(c) has officers who are substantially the same as officers of the reporting unit responsible for undertaking functions to enable accounting, auditing and reporting obligations to be met.

The reporting unit is taken to have satisfied its accounting, auditing and reporting obligations in relation to a financial year if section 269 applies to the reporting unit and:

(a) a Registrar, on application of the reporting unit, issues a certificate stating that the financial affairs of the reporting unit are encompassed by those of the associated State body;

(b) the associated State body has complied with similar obligations under State legislation;

(c) the reporting unit has lodged a copy of the audited accounts of the associated State body with the Industrial Registry;

(d) any members of the reporting unit not also members of the associated State body have been provided with copies of the audited accounts of the associated State body at about the same time as its members; and

(e) members of the reporting unit have been provided with an operating report for the reporting unit together with the copies of the audited accounts of the associated State body.

Organisations with income not exceeding $100,000

A reporting unit that is the whole of an organisation may make an application after the end of a financial year for a certificate that its income for the year did not exceed $100,000. Where a Registrar issues such a certificate reduced reporting requirements apply to the reporting unit for that financial year. Unless reduced as discussed below, all accounting, auditing and reporting obligations apply in full to the reporting unit.

The general purpose financial report is required to be prepared within 4 months of the end of the financial year and with form and content as required by the reporting guidelines issued by the Industrial Registrar for purposes of section 270. There is no statutory requirement to prepare this report in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards (ss270(4) and Reg 164).

The obligation to provide free of charge to its members a copy of the auditor's report and the general purpose financial report is limited to a member who has made such a request. The copies must be provided to the member within 14 days after receiving the request (ss270(6)).

The timeframe within which to present the auditor's report and the general purpose financial report to a general meeting of the members of the reporting unit is extended to the end of the financial year immediately following the year to which those reports relate (s270(5)).

The timeframe within which to lodge with the Registrar copies of the auditor's report and the general purpose financial report is 90 days (or such longer period as a Registrar allows) after the auditor makes a report to the reporting unit under section 257. The copies should be accompanied by a certificate by the secretary or another officer authorised by the rules of the reporting unit that the information contained in the general purpose financial report is correct (ss270(7) and Reg 164(2)).

This material has been prepared by the Australian Industrial Registry as a general guide to the Workplace Relations (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) legislation. This material should not be treated as advice on the circumstances of any particular case. This material does not have any legal status; the relevant law is set out in Schedule 1 to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the RAO Schedule), the RAO Schedule Regulations, the reporting guidelines of the Industrial Registrar issued under s255 of the RAO Schedule and the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) (Consequential Provisions) Act 2002.

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