Codes of Practice set out industry standards of conduct. They are guidelines for fair dealing between you and your customers, and let your customers know what your business agrees to do when dealing with them. Codes of Practice can relate to a single business, or represent a whole industry.
You can decide to establish your own Code of Practice, or to adopt an industry specific Code of Practice (in some cases this is mandatory).
Usually, Codes of Practice are established through consultation with industry representatives and the community. They can be mandatory or voluntary:
- Mandatory codes provide a minimum standard of protection to the consumers. They are prescribed as regulations under fair trading laws and can be enforced.
- Voluntary codes are a form of industry self-regulation. They can be sponsored by an industry association or can be in partnership with a government agency (membership of an industry association is often a condition of the code). Voluntary industry codes are usually flexible and can be altered quickly in response to changing industry/consumer needs.
What to do...
- Check with your industry association to see if a Code of Practice applies to your business - see our Directory of government & business associations for contact details.
- Read the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's Voluntary codes to get a better understanding of the potential benefits of voluntary codes and how codes are developed.