Annual returns

The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (the RO Act) requires registered organisations to provide certain information to the Commission each year.

Information which must be lodged annually

Registered organisations must lodge an annual return by 31 March each year. The annual return must include:

  • a declaration regarding the register of members of the organisation (the declaration needs to certify that during the immediately preceding calendar year, the register of members was kept and maintained in accordance with the requirements of the RO Act)
  • a list of the offices in the organisation and each branch
  • a list of the names, postal addresses and occupations of the persons holding the offices
  • a record of the name of each branch of the organisation, each branch that commenced operation in the previous 12 months and each branch that ceased operation in the previous 12 months
  • a record of the street address of the office of the organisation and the street address of the office of each branch
  • a record of each election for an office in the organisation or branch that must be held during the calendar year which commenced on 1 January
  • a record of the number of members on 31 December in the previous year
  • a record of the number of people who are members because of an agreement entered into with a state union
  • a declaration which certifies that the copy of the records lodged is a correct statement of the information contained in those records.

There are templates available to assist registered organisations to lodge their annual return.

Who can lodge the information?

The return and accompanying declaration must be signed by the National Secretary or another prescribed office holder of the organisation.

Section 233 of the RO Act requires that this information is lodged by the organisation, not its branches. The document lodged by the organisation must include the required information about all of its branches (sometimes referred to as chapters or divisions).

If the register of members is kept on a branch-by-branch basis, then the relevant office holder in each branch may need to make the required declaration about the register of members. However the organisation is required to lodge all the information.

Find out more about lodging documents

A risk-based approach to annual returns

The Commission has a risk-based approach to the assessment of annual returns. This allows the Commission to manage the legislative requirements and efficiently use resources to help registered organisations comply.

The majority of annual returns are given a primary assessment each year. The assessment focuses on key elements of compliance including that the annual return was signed by an appropriate officer and lodged on time. From time to time every registered organisation will be assessed against at least one advanced checklist. An advanced assessment of the annual return is a more comprehensive review which thoroughly evaluates compliance with the requirements of the RO Act.

Identified patterns of non-compliance may trigger more than one advanced assessment.

There are primary and advanced checklists available to help registered organisations understand how the Commission assesses annual returns of information.