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
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.