By Tom Robinson

Employers are heavily regulated by the complex employment relations framework in Australia. This structure imposes several vital employer obligations on businesses through the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), modern awards or enterprise agreements and other legislative instruments. Being aware of the rights and responsibilities of employers is essential in this highly regulated area of the law.

So, what are your obligations and responsibilities as an employer? In this article, I discuss the importance of meeting all your employer obligations from employment contracts to entitlements laid out in modern awards or enterprise agreements and why employers cannot afford to get this wrong. Let’s get started.

The Fair Work Act

The FW Act imposes many obligations on employers. Not only do the National Employment Standards (NES) dictate the minimum entitlements for employees, but the FW Act also dictates how you need to run your business.

For instance, are you aware of your record-keeping obligations under the FW Act? Did you know that you must issue a pay slip within one working day of paying an employee? Are you aware of how personal leave accrues for a part-time employee? Did you provide each of your employees a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement when they commenced employment?

To ensure you follow a best practice onboarding process, our powerful HR software, HRA Cloud, houses an induction checklist that is easy to follow and meets all the requirements of the FW Act.

Modern awards and enterprise agreements

Are your employees covered by a modern award or an enterprise agreement? These instruments specify the minimum entitlements of your eligible employees and may include minimum wages, the minimum and maximum hours of work, rostering provisions that must be adhered to as well as information on when entitlements such as overtime, penalty rates, and allowances are payable.

Did you know that you’re in breach of the FW Act if you fail to comply with the provisions of a modern award or an enterprise agreement?

If you are unsure about which modern awards or enterprise agreements apply to your business, please reach out to one of our Workplace Relations Advisors via our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Employment contracts

Have you issued your employees a comprehensive employment contract? While businesses are not legally required to issue employment contracts in Australia, it’s best practice to do so. Without having a written contract in place, disputes are more likely to arise and expose a business to a range of risks.

Problems can include:

  • disputes about what employees should be paid;
  • being unable to enforce confidentiality obligations and post-employment restraints on employees;
  • disputes about job roles and inclusions; and
  • confusion as to whether a salary is inclusive of entitlements such as annual leave loading, allowances, and overtime.

All employees should be given an employment contract, including casuals and temporary employees. While having contracts in place doesn’t eliminate all workplace relations issues, they do help in the long term by providing both employers and employees with consistency, certainty, and predictability.

Workplace policies and the Employee Handbook

Companies often have implied policies or known rules around the workplace that aren’t in writing but are rather treated as common knowledge that most employees know or should know. To be able to enforce these rules or policies, you must ensure that the policies are clearly specified in writing and state the consequences of breaching the policy.

Through our powerful HR software, HRA Cloud, we offer a tailored Employee Handbook – this isn’t an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all model – it’s drafted to meet the specific needs of your business. You can use this Employee Handbook in the HRA Cloud to implement your own Code of Conduct and other intrinsic policies in your workplace.

If the information in this article has raised any questions about your employer obligations, please reach out to our workplace relations experts via our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Tom Robinson is a Workplace Relations Advisor at FCB and HR Assured and advises clients about employee relations and workplace laws to ensure they are compliant with ever-changing regulations. He is currently studying Commerce & Law at Deakin University and majoring in Economics.