Being an employer means that you have to comply with the national rules. However, it can be hard for small businesses to know exactly what they need to do in order to be compliant. The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FWA) establishes a range of rights and obligations for businesses. Further, the Fair Work Ombudsman sets out a best practice checklist which breaks down all your obligations.

It involves the following:

  1. Do you know which awards apply your business?
  2. Is your business compliant with the National Employment Standards (NES)?
  3. Are you keeping the required records and giving employees pay slips?
  4. Are you aware of your options for making an enterprise agreement with employees?
  5. Do you understand your obligation to bargain in good faith in an enterprise agreement?
  6. Are you able to comply with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code if terminating an employee’s employment?
  7. Is your business equipped to prevent unlawful dismissals or adverse action matters from arising?

Knowing who to contact if you need assistance is important and, in particular, an Employment Lawyer can provide advice in this area.

1. Awards

A Modern award sets out the minimum wage and conditions that an employee is legally entitled to. There are 120 modern awards which apply to most employers and employee relating to:

  • Minimum wages
  • Types of employment
  • Overtime, penalty rates and allowances
  • Work arrangements, including rostering and working hour variations
  • Annualised wage or salary arrangements
  • Leave loading and arrangements for taking leave
  • Superannuation
  • Procedures for consultation, representation and dispute settlement

Employers and employees can agree to flexible terms under individual flexibility arrangements (IFAs) as long as it meets the genuine needs of an employee and benefits them.

2. National Employment Standards

In addition to modern awards, the NES sets out ten minimum entitlements you must provide to full-time and part-time employees:

  1. A maximum standard working week of 38 hours, although a full-time employee can work additional hours within reason
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements
  3. Parental leave and related entitlements
  4. Annual leave
  5. Personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave as well as unpaid family and domestic violence leave
  6. Community service leave
  7. Long service leave
  8. Public holidays
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay
  10. The Fair Work Information Statement

Casual employees are entitled to some, but not all of the Standards such as:

  1. Unpaid carer’s leave, compassionate leave as well as family and domestic violence leave
  2. Community service leave
  3. The Fair Work Information Statement

Long-serving casuals may be eligible for long term service leave – subject to state and territory laws – and, moreover, rights to request flexible working arrangements and access to parental leave.

3. Record and Pay Slip Requirements

Records

The FWA requires you to keep records of certain employee information, such as:

  • Your business name
  • The employee’s name
  • Whether the employee is full-time or part-time
  • Whether the employee is permanent, temporary or casual
  • The date the employee began working
  • Your ABN

The records must be kept for seven years and can’t be changed unless to correct an error.

Pay Slips

Employees must receive a pay slip within one working day of being paid (whether electronically or in hard copy). Similarly, the pay slip should include:

  • The employer’s name and ABN
  • Employee’s name
  • Date of the payment and period covered by pay slip
  • Before and after tax amounts
  • The employee’s hourly or salary rate
  • Other payments or allowances
  • Any deductions
  • Super contributions

4. Enterprise Agreements

Our recent article covers this topic, though it’s important to note that enterprise agreements can apply in place of modern awards as long as they don’t provide less than the NES. An enterprise agreement can be made with regard to the relationship between employer and employee, as well as the employer and a union.

5. Good Faith Bargaining

You have an obligation to bargain in good faith in an enterprise agreement with employees, particularly including:

  • Attending and participating in meetings at reasonable times
  • Timely disclosure relevant information (unless confidential or commercially sensitive)
  • Giving genuine consideration and responses to proposals made by other bargaining representatives in a timely manner
  • Not behaving in a way that undermines freedom of association or collective bargaining
  • Recognising and bargaining with the other bargaining representatives for the agreement

6. Small Business Fair Dismissal Code

If your business has fewer than 15 employees (including casuals employed on a regular basis), you must meet your obligations under the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code. Further, Fair Work Australia provides a checklist to ensure you’re compliant with the code.

7. Unlawful Dismissals and Adverse Action

It’s essential you equip your business with measures to ensure fairness and clarity to employees, especially regarding the termination of employment. A document such as a Discrimination Policy can help to achieve this and make sure you comply with anti-discrimination legislation.

A diverse and inclusive workplace boosts productivity, reduces turnover, saves money and improves work and living conditions for every member in your business meaning, therefore, that going beyond obligations to provide an inclusive workplace has benefits for everyone.

Want to know more about how this affects you? Contact a LawPath Consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace

Shaheen Hoosen

Shaheen is a Legal Tech Intern at LawPath as part of the Content Team. He is in his final year of a Bachelor of Laws with the degree of Bachelor of Information Technology (Major in Information Systems and Business Analysis) at Macquarie University. He is interested in Information Technology Law and Access to Justice.