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Accessorial liability crackdown puts bookkeepers on alert

Bookkeepers have been urged to tap into the experience of advisers who deal with industrial laws and modern awards, in the wake of the fallout of the Fair Work Ombudsman successfully securing penalties under the accessorial liability laws.

Bookkeeper Jotham Lian 07 November 2018
— 1 minute read

Last week, Harmers Workplace Lawyers executive counsel David Bates said recent prosecutions over the past three years have shown a 92 per cent spike in chances of accountants and bookkeepers being targeted by the Fair Work Ombudsman under accessorial liability laws.


“The key people that they are targeting – established from the prosecution’s that they are running and have ran successfully – they are targeting payroll officers, HR advisors, accountants and bookkeepers,” said Mr Bates.

Under one point of Section 550 of the Fair Work Act, “a person is involved in a contravention if they: have been in any way, by act or omission, directly or indirectly, knowingly concerned in or party to the contravention.”

The FWO successfully secured penalties against Victorian accounting firm Ezy Accounting 123 in 2017 for allegedly facilitating underpayments by its client, fast food operator Blue Impression Pty Ltd.

Speaking to The Bookkeeper, Association of Accounting Technicians chief executive, Rochelle Park said bookkeepers should consider tapping onto external help to stay on the right side of the law.

“We strongly advise bookkeepers who are working with client payroll that they connect with a qualified HR advisory service due to the complexity of the industrial laws in Australia,” said Ms Park.  

“Such advisory services from skilled and experienced professionals provides a level of reassurance to both the bookkeeper and their clients about the proper application of modern awards and other industrial instruments, including the many detailed provisions of the Fair Work Act.”

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Accessorial liability crackdown puts bookkeepers on alert
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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.