Fact Sheet No. 11/2003 7 May 2003, Australian Industrial Registry
Registration and Accountability of Organisations Legislation Fact Sheet
Conduct of Officers
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 related 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 RAO Schedule.
Chapter 9 of the RAO Schedule introduces statutory duties concerning the conduct of officers and employees of organisations in relation to their financial management responsibilities.
Exercise care and diligence
- An officer must exercise his or her powers and duties with the degree of care and diligence that a reasonable person would exercise in that position (section 285).
- In addition, when making a judgement to take or not take action an officer should:
- appropriately inform himself or herself about the subject matter
- not have a personal interest
- make the judgement for a proper purpose, and
- rationally believe that the judgement is in the best interests of the organisation.
Exercise powers in good faith
- An officer must discharge his or her powers and duties in good faith in the best interests of the organisation, and for a proper purpose (section 286).
Improper use of position
- An officer or employee cannot use his or her position to obtain an advantage for himself or herself or someone else, or cause detriment to the organisation or another person (section 287).
Improper use of information
- A person who obtains information by being, or having been, an officer or employee of a registered organisation cannot improperly use that information to obtain an advantage for himself or herself or someone else, or to cause detriment to the organisation or another person (section 288).
Involvement in a contravention
- A person cannot be involved in the contravention of the duties in sections 286, 287 and 288 by an officer or employee of an organisation. `Involved' includes aiding, encouraging, inducing or being a party to the contravention.
Ratification of a breach of duty by members
- Members of an organisation can approve (or ratify) a contravention of the duties by an officer or employee of their organisation, but this does not prevent action being taken against a person for breaching their duties. The court can take the ratification into account if legal action is taken against the person for breaching their duty (section 289).
Interaction of the duties with other laws
- A person will not breach his or her duties by doing something required by another part of the RAO Schedule or the WR Act (section 290).
- The duties in the RAO Schedule do not replace any other duties of an officer or employee contained in other laws. The only exception is the judgement rule in section 285 which replaces similar duties in common law and equity (section 291).
Reliance on information or advice provided by others
- It is reasonable for an officer to rely on information or professional or expert advice in performing his or her duties, unless it can be proved that it was unreasonable to rely on the advice in the circumstances (section 292).
Responsibility for actions of other person
- Generally, if an officer delegates his or her power to another officer under the rules of an organisation or branch, the officer making the delegation remains liable in respect of the exercise of that power as if he or she had exercised the power personally (section 293).
- There is an exception if the officer making the delegation had reasonable grounds to believe the power was delegated to a reliable and competent person and would be exercised in compliance with the duties imposed by the RAO Schedule or the WR Act.
Breach of duties
- The Industrial Registrar is responsible for investigating and prosecuting any breaches of the duties by officer or employees (section 310).
- Breaches of the duties can result in fines of up to $2200 (section 305). Persons breaching their duties may also be liable to pay compensation to their organisation if it suffers damages because of the breach (section 307).
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 and the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) (Consequential Provisions) Act 2002.