Falling in line with learning

by 21 Jul 2009

Organisations must comply with a growing number of legislative and regulatory requirements. Craig Donaldson examines some of the more important requirements and looks at how HR can help their organisations make the most of online compliance training

There have been a number of important legal and regulatory developments and issues that will impact on organisations and their compliance requirements, according to legal experts in the online compliance training world. Kirsty Edser, a partner in Minter Ellison Lawyer’s HR/IR group, says that any company with employees needs to ensure that it is providing compliance training. “With some excep tions, an employer is generally vicariously liable for the acts of its employees,” she says. “However, some laws recognise that an employer should not be liable for a breach by an employee if the employer has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the employees comply with that law.”

For example, Edser says, an employer may argue in a claim for sexual harassment that the company is not vicariously liable, but that the employee is personally liable. But to do so successfully, an employer would have to show a number of things, including that the employee was provided with regular training on those laws.

Another important consideration in implementing online compliance training is risk management, according to Edser. “Under numerous laws, an employer must identify, manage and minimise and/or eliminate risks in their workplace,” she says. “Providing training on laws such as occupational health and safety or anti-money laundering is a key way for employers to minimise the risks that exist, and a way for an employer to establish compliance with laws.”

Adam Dunkley, marketing manager for e3Learning, says that compliance is increas ing, not decreasing. For example, new industrial relations legislation will serve to increase compliance in critical safety and wellbeing areas.

“Providing compliance training is one of the most fundamental mitigating factors. Companies who fail to provide fundamental compliance training will be faced with risks of prosecution, hefty fines and the resulting brand degradation,” he says. “Some key areas will be in industrial relations, OHS and carbon emissions and sustainability train ing for large energy users.”

The role of HR

HR has a key responsibility to create a smarter, more edu cated and skilled workforce, and HR is also in a position to positively affect the bottom-line performance of the company, according to Dunkley.

“Taking core compliance training online will return sig nificant savings in the first year,” he says, adding that online solutions provide a low-risk solution with no ongoing con tracts and capital expenditure. “With shrinking budgets and tighter legislation, going online is very attractive.”

Another important factor is verifying compliance. “Online compliance training delivers this in real time,” Dunkley says. “HR managers and executives can go into the next meeting with the exact number of staff trained, their assessment results and even who is having trouble with particular assessment results, highlighting critical knowl edge gaps.”

Edser says that HR has a significant part to play in ensuring employees receive the training they require to develop in their roles, as well as ensuring employees receive compliance training. “Compliance training is necessary to manage and minimise legal risks,” she says.

“Good HR practitioners are aware of the compliance risks generally, as well as being aware of what additional risks are alive in their workplace. Additional risks may arise due to the nature of the work being performed (such as sales, so Trade Practice issues may be relevant) or the cul ture (a history of bullying, for example, so EEO/safety issues need to be addressed).”

Pros and cons

Online compliance training can assist companies in giving employees the general training they require, and, depend ing on the workforce, Edser says it can be used as the pri mary model of training or can supplement other training that is provided.

She says advantages of online compliance training include: the ability to record in an easy and accurate way who has completed the training; the testing component which ensures employees obtain the knowledge; the acces sibility of the training (particularly for employers with employees spread geographically) and flexibility (because employees can complete it at times suitable to them).

Dunkley says traditional methods of delivering com pliance training cannot compete with the efficiency, low cost, quality of message, educational outcomes and ability to track and report in real-time of an online solution.

He says some of the pros of an online training in com pliance are: selection of hundreds of courses designed by experts in the field; delivering the same message every time; a significant reduction in costs, both direct and indirect; the ability to update content; and self-paced learning.