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Woolworths internal auditing

Woolworths advised that principal contractors are responsible for auditing 5% to 10% of their portfolio sites per year for compliance with workplace laws. Woolworths require the auditors to be approved by them, and where non-compliance is detected, rectification is required by the contractor. However, Woolworths advised the FWO that they could not confirm they had sought to independently check that the sub-contractors were compliant or whether any further documents were checked or kept by Woolworths.

The FWO observed that this auditing system did not adequately measure compliance because the system was vulnerable to influence by the primary contractor and subcontractors, who could choose the sites for audit and had the capacity to influence the information gathered. The FWO also had concern for the level of rigour of the audits conducted and the capacity for these to identify non-compliance.

Case Study

Woolworths requires that principal cleaning contractors audit 5% to 10% of its contracted stores to check their compliance with workplace laws. Woolworths allows its contractors to select which subcontractor(s) to audit.

Contractor A selected one of its subcontractors, Contractor B for an audit. During the auditor’s site visit, the auditor noted that there were two people on site cleaning. However, Contractor B advised that he did not have any employees. The auditor accepted that Contractor B did not have any employees and therefore found Contractor B was complaint with his workplace relations obligations.

When inspectors conducted a site visit at this store, they identified Contractor B and one employee of Contractor B, which indicated to the inspectors that the information provided in the course of the Woolworths audit was incorrect.