Down Under, Supermarkets Combat Late Payments

In Australia, large supermarket chains are among the firms combatting late payments, and adhering to a supplier payment code. In the U.S., the government shutdown impact lingers as workers and contractors are still waiting to get paid.

In the land Down Under, larger firms are committing to combatting late payments. Woolworths became the second-largest supermarket chain to sign the supplier payment code put forth by the Business Council of Australia, and follows the same path as Coles seen earlier in the month.

As reported by InsideRetail, Woolworths also has its own small supplier payment guidelines in place, which stipulate that firms should be paid be within two weeks of Woolworths’ receipt of goods.

The move by the two supermarket firms also follows comments from Australia’s government that larger firms found lacking in terms of timely payments to small firms would be “named and shamed.” The code noted that trade between businesses within the country amounts to over $550 billion annually, and that “no business exists in isolation, and everyone benefits when the nation has a viable and productive small business supplier base.”

Coles, for its part, has debuted new software that aims to help with supplier payments. The software is provided by SAP, and allows for the digitization of supplier invoices and payments. The firm has committed to pay suppliers within 30 days.

Also in Australia, the federal government has asked small businesses for feedback on the creation of a register that would help track supplier payment turnaround. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Minister for Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash said that, under the initiative, companies with turnover of at least $100 million will have to publish how long it takes to pay invoices. Performance may be measured against a benchmark, according to the Herald.

As quoted by the publication, Council of Small Business Organizations Australia CEO Peter Strong said larger firms would have to be held accountable on payments.

“How do we make sure someone hasn’t just promised, and then crossed their fingers?” he said and that one option might be to take non-compliant firms out of the running for government contracts.

Lingering Effects From Government Shutdown

In the United States, as a new shutdown was averted, it seems the impact of the one that lasted more than a month has had some lingering effects. As NBC reported, workers, government agencies and private firms have been affected. The site noted that most of the 800,000 federal employees have collected back pay. Some, though, still have not yet been able to recover their wages. Some of those workers are still even waiting to be paid as much as 30 percent of their wages.

“There’s still a lot of work to do before we can get to anything close to back to normal,” said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president of the Professional Services Council, according to NBC. Chvotkin’s council represents several hundred businesses that had been doing work for the government, and delayed payments are still outstanding. The executive told NBC that “there are millions and millions of dollars waiting to be paid out.”

Government officials have said that the backlog is tied to “systems issues” at the National Finance Center, which processes payments for government employees.

Transit Payments Off Track

In reference to mass transit and payment delays, New Jersey Transit has reportedly come current with $182 million that had been owed to Amtrak. The payments had been tied to the use of New York Penn Station and the northeast corridor line. The payments are being used to improve Penn Station, according to NJBiz. The agreement between agencies stipulates that NJ Transit pay $7 million monthly to Amtrak.