Aussie app startup hits market just at the right time

Talk about good timing. Australian technology startup, NoahFace, has announced the general availability of its time and attendance software as organisations rush to comply with legislative award changes that came into effect on March 1.

Since 2017, entrepreneur Geoff Cropley and his co-founder and chief technology officer, John MacLean (not this one) have created NoahFace, a system that authenticates and verifies staff using its iPad-based facial recognition software. Cropley is a former Sydney cafe owner and concieved the software because he couldn’t remember his customers’ names.

The platform allows annualised salary staff to be monitored for start, break and finish times and can scale to any size business. It is integrated with payroll software sold by Kronos, Payroll Metrics, KeyPay and Microkeeper with further integrations expected.

Cropley believes that many thousands of organisations across key vertical sectors including finance, legal, retail, hospitality, local government and telecommunications providers are not yet ready to comply with the new regulations and could face significant penalties for non-compliance.

“Until now, employees have relied on their employers to meet their obligations but the extend of the reported wage theft incidents over the last twelve months show that this is not working,” Cropley said.

“The new Fair Work Act requirements for organisations to implement stringent record keeping measures which will minimise the opportunity for payroll mistakes and underpayments.”

Last month, Super Retail Group’s CEO, Anthony Heraghty, and Wesfarmers boss, Rob Scott, blamed software purchased from offshore vendors and not configured for our ‘relatively complex labour’ environment as a key factor in underpaying working people.

Last year, Woolworths admitted to underpaying 6000 staff over nine years up to $300 million. Wesfarmers-owned Bunnings blamed coding errors in its payroll software for falling short on its superannuation obligations for staff over nine years. Coles, which demerged from Wesfarmers in 2018, underpaid staff by $20 million across its supermarket and liquor operations. Meanwhile, Super Retail Group underpaid staff by $60 million over eight years.

Cropley said staff are the most important asset in any business and if any CIO or CFO or CEO doesn’t recognise that, I think they have “rocks in their head.”

“The quickest way to make a staff member pretty angry is to underpay them for the effort or work they’ve put in on a given day or pay period. It’s a reasonable statement to make,” he said.

“Paying people correctly starts with having the data points of when they arrived at work and when they left work and if they took an unpaid break. You’ve got to get that right.”

Cropley said he is surprised by the fact that companies, particularly SMEs, are still using paper to record time and attendance information.

“Those people need to lift their game pretty quickly. The fact is that the law has now changed, which affects tens of thousands of business, and possibly hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of workers...the law now says you have to record the start time of workers which wasn’t traditionally done because they got paid [a set] monthly [salary].”

“I’m not going to be critical of people or brands who got it wrong. These gentleman [Heraghty and Scott] delegate to HR managers and that’s their responsibility but obviously it went wrong in a pretty bad way which is not good. 

“You’ve got to get the basic data right because if you put crap in, which means either the wrong information or no information at all, you’re going to get crap out meaning the wrong payslip.”

The Fair Work Commission’s new annualised wage arrangement means employers in multiple awards categories must create, and for seven years, retain accurate records of hours worked (and non-paid breaks) by salaried staff, and any extra pay for overtime. Non-compliance with the award is a breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 and in addition to the adverse publicity and other employment risks, civil penalty provisions will also apply.

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