ACCC authorises Homeworkers Code of Practice

3 October 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission authorised a revised form of the Homeworkers Code of Practice for five years.

The Homeworker Code Committee sought authorisation as the Code contains an agreement to only outsource work to contractors who comply with workplace laws.

“The ACCC considers that the Code is likely to provide businesses with a means to manage risks in their outsourced supply chains, and efficiently signal their compliance with workplace legal obligations,” ACCC Commissioner Dr Jill Walker said.

“This will lead to more informed decision making throughout the supply chain. The ACCC also considers that public benefits are likely to arise from greater compliance by businesses with their legal obligations towards vulnerable workers.”

"The revisions to the Code clarify its operation and extend its potential operation to textiles businesses to reflect changes to underlying laws.”

While the ACCC considers that the Code is likely to lead to some anticompetitive detriment, this will be limited by the following factors:

  • the Code is voluntary;
  • retail signatories and accredited manufacturers are only able to agree to boycott other businesses that are not compliant with their legal obligations; and
  • the Code contains safeguards against inappropriate accreditation or boycott decisions.

The ACCC had regard to submissions from interested parties who stated that accreditation under the Code was not voluntary for parties seeking to comply with Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

Ultimately, it is a matter for individual businesses to decide whether or not they tender for Commonwealth projects and therefore must comply with the requirements set by the Government.

“On balance, the ACCC considers the Code is likely to result in net public benefits. The benefits of efficiencies in risk management of outsourced supply chains and of compliance with legal obligations to workers are likely to outweigh the detriments,” Dr Walker said.

Authorisation provides statutory protection for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. In general, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

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