Regulatory approach to occupational licensing and consumer protection – COVID-19
This statement sets out the enforcement approach that NSW Fair Trading will take to ensure compliance with the legislation it administers relating to occupational licensing, consumer and community protection and regulated entities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NSW Fair Trading recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an exceptional set of circumstances and will have significant impacts on consumers, traders, businesses and organisations with their obligations under the legislation we administer.
NSW Fair Trading appreciates that exceptional circumstances require flexibility on the part of regulators, and this is reflected in our graduated approach to compliance and enforcement.
Arrangements to apply while orders are in force under the Public Health Act 2010
NSW Fair Trading understands that the Public Health (COVID-19) Gatherings Orders 2020 impacts NSW businesses and traders. NSW Fair Trading will take into account the unprecedented pressures on businesses and traders and apply a common sense and practical approach to our interactions with those we regulate. Advisory, compliance and enforcement activity will continue including a focus on matters that pose significant financial and/or safety risks to our community. NSW Fair Trading’s actions will be proportionate with a focus on what is reasonable in the circumstances.
In particular, NSW Fair Trading will apply a reasonable and proportionate response to compliance, including with a business’s, trader’s or organisations’ ability to comply with its statutory obligations due to constraints associated with the pandemic. These may include requirements such as:
- timeframes to respond to requests for additional information on licensing or permit applications
- timeframes in which to lodge annual returns/reports or other documents
- maintaining records in prescribed formats; and compliance with other regulatory requirements including transitioning to comply with recently commenced and new legislative requirements.
NSW Fair Trading will generally take a supportive and educative approach to compliance with these requirements during this time provided licence holders, traders, organisations and suppliers have made genuine documented attempts to comply with requirements but are non-compliant due to factors outside their direct control. However, NSW Fair Trading reserves the right to vary its approach as appropriate to the circumstances, particularly in cases that may involve a significant risk of harm or consumer or community detriment.
NSW Fair Trading advice
NSW Fair Trading recommends all NSW businesses, traders and organisations take action to prepare and manage the risk of exposure to COVID-19 to consumers.
All businesses should:
- actively promote social distancing, good hand and respiratory hygiene and increase cleaning of common areas within the work environment
- comply with directions and advice provided by our health authorities, and keep monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it develops
- communicate with consumers in a timely manner about whether your business remains open, your ability to deliver goods and provide services (including potential delays), amendments to refund periods if your business is temporarily closing; and
- continue to comply with statutory requirements and notify NSW Fair Trading of inability to continue to operate.
If businesses and traders are experiencing difficulties in complying with their statutory obligations as a result of COVID-19, they may contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.
NSW Fair Trading anticipates that consumers will appreciate and understand that there are current difficulties in the supply chain for certain products which will delay their receipt. Consumers should raise their concerns with the trader in the first instance. If they are not satisfied with the response, they may contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or make an enquiry or make a complaint.
NSW Fair Trading will continue to monitor the situation and engage with industry and industry representatives as appropriate.
For more information please refer to the NSW Fair Trading website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
Commissioner for Fair Trading