The Australian Supplier Payment Code is a voluntary, industry-led initiative that enshrines the importance of prompt and on-time payment for small business suppliers through compliance with a set of best-practice standards.
The Code commits signatory organisations to pay eligible Australian small business suppliers on-time and within 30 days of receiving a correct invoice, and to help suppliers implement new technologies and practices to speed up invoicing. In some cases, this will more than halve payment times and help improve the viability and vitality of small business and enhance the ability of business to create jobs.
The code is at the centre of a new age of co-operation and mutual respect between businesses – big and small. It was launched by Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott in 2017 and has been endorsed by the Council of Small Business Australia and the Victorian State Government.
Any business, not-for-profit or government entity can sign up to the code at any time.
The code is not just about paying small business bills within 30 days of receiving a correct invoice. It also obliges big businesses to give a helping hand to smaller ones to implement new technologies and practices to improve their systems to have more efficient and faster invoicing and payment. The code also requires purchasers to pay on time and includes a clear and fair process for dealing with complaints and disputes about payment times.
No business exists in isolation and everyone benefits when the nation has a viable and productive small business supplier base.
Trade between small, medium and large businesses totals more than $550 billion a year. Improving payment times will improve productivity and help ease the stress for small business owners. Healthy cash flows and working capital are crucial to the viability of a business and its ability to expand and create jobs.
A voluntary, industry-led effort to drive change in payments culture and practices should be given time to work before any consideration of regulation, which would impose extra costs on all business and taxpayers. We need a culture of cooperation, not compliance.
The Business Council will work with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and State-based Commissioners to regularly review the progress of the code.
The Code was first proposed by the Business Council in its submission to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman's Inquiry into Payment Times and Practices.
In summary, signatories to the Code commit to:
- Pay small business suppliers within 30 days (subject to conditions)
- Pay all suppliers on time
- Provide clear guidance about payment procedures to suppliers
- Work with suppliers to improve invoicing and payments practices
- A process for resolving payment disputes and complaints (see link to guidance note)
- Basic reporting on company policies and practices in place to comply with the Code.
“It is clear that most issues relating to payment times and practices occur between businesses. The Government’s preference is to not add more regulation to address a problem unless it is absolutely necessary. Therefore the Government welcomes the Business Council of Australia’s (BCA) industry-led “Australian Supplier Payment Code” initiative, which is a good first step by industry to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem and the need to improve supplier payment culture in Australia. The Government is willing to give industry the first opportunity to address the problem. However, the Government’s support is not unconditional and I will be carefully monitoring the effectiveness of the BCA’s Code and reserve the right to take stronger action should we see a lack of progress over time.”
Minister for Small Business, The Hon Michael McCormack, November 2017
BUSINESS COUNCIL MEMBER SIGNATORIES