New payment bill will protect small business: IPA

15 July 2020

A new bill which will require businesses to publish policies including payment times would go a long way to helping small businesses struggling with cashflow, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

The Payment Times Reporting Bill 2020 and Payment Times Reporting (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020 were now before Parliament, which would require business with over $100 million turnover to publish their policies on payment times.

Andrew Conway, IPA chief executive officer, said the IPA’s submission to the Senate Education and Employment Committees highlighted areas to be addressed, which included the recommendation that legislation should have maximum payment times, preferably 30 days or less.

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“Without a prescribed period of time, there will be room for ambiguity or arbitrage which can be easily exploited by large businesses,” Conway said.

“The bill prescribes the creation of a Payment Times Reporting Regulator which will be a senior executive employee in the department.

“As is the case with other regulators, we advocate that this role should be adequately resourced to instil the importance of the role and to ensure it is effectively meeting the requirements of the function.”

Conway said one of the most pleasing things about the proposed legislation was the penalty regime, which would have penalties that were sufficient enough to drive the behavioural change required.

“Some large businesses use excuses such as inaccurate invoicing, missing invoices or make changes to contract terms and conditions – anything to extend payment times,” Conway said.

“It is essential these practices change and if the legislation is successful in bringing this behavioural shift, then the flow-on benefits to small business will be realised.”

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