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Review of Payment Times and Practices (April 2019)

In November 2018, Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Michaelia Cash requested ASBFEO conduct a review of payment times, to measure the effects of late or extended payment practices on the cash flow of small businesses and family enterprises in Australia.

Letters requesting current small business supplier payment terms and conditions were sent to over 250 large businesses. Consultations were held with large businesses in the mining, construction and engineering, food, liquor and hardware retail, food supply and telecommunications sectors. More than 2,400 survey responses were received from small businesses identifying late payment problems with over 1,300 businesses.

The review found a persistent trend in Australia of payment times being extended beyond usual industry standards.

The Review of payment terms, times and practices report  (PDF 5MB) examines payment term trends among large Australian and multinational businesses and provides recommendations on how these practices might be improved to protect small and family business cash flow.

Background

Payment times and practices refer to:

  • payment times: getting paid later than the agreed time or extending terms beyond 30 days

  • payment practices: customers' processes that extend payment time. For example, payments are processed at the end of a month for the previous month. So suppliers can wait up to 60 days for goods delivered on the first or second of a month.

ASBFEO’s 2017 Payment Times and Practices Inquiry found Australian corporations paid invoices on average 26.4 days late - the worst in the world. Our more recent research, as part of our Access to Justice Inquiry involving 1600 businesses, identified the biggest cause of dispute remains payments (44%); either the full amount not being paid (26%) or not being paid on time (18%). The ASBFEO is seeking feedback from small and family businesses on this issue.

Payment times survey

The Payment Times Review survey is now closed. We thank all small and family business owners who responded to the survey and for your support of the important work we continue to do around payment terms, times and practices. Your response and details remain confidential.