Australia has some of the most complex and stringent employment laws around the world, with severe penalties and consequences for employers and business owners should they fail to meet their obligations. HR is an important function in any business and compliance in this area is a must.

We recently hosted an exclusive online event where we asked the question: How healthy is your HR? Hosted by one of our Senior Workplace Relations Consultants, Katherine Argyriou, she shared the ins and outs of HR compliance and the simple steps you can take to uncover any risks and protect your business.

If our calendars didn’t line up or you’d just like to brush up your knowledge of HR compliance, here we cover the key topics Katherine covered in this online workshop including the importance of staying on top of your HR compliance.

So, how healthy is your HR?

The ins and outs of HR compliance

1. Modern Awards

Did you know that there are 121 modern awards? And businesses must select from these when deciding what to pay their employees – this can be an incredibly tricky process but that’s no excuse for getting it wrong. Classifying employees under the correct modern award is crucial to ensuring that they receive their legal minimum entitlements. Companies big or small aren’t immune from making critical errors when it comes to paying employees correctly – and if big businesses backed by experienced HR teams can get it wrong, then it’s easy to see how a smaller one can get caught out.

2. Employment contracts

In Australia, employers aren’t legally required to issue employment contracts, but it is best practice to do so. These agreements outline the terms and conditions of employment and without them in place, disputes are more likely to occur. Ensuring that your contracts are tailored to your industry and business needs will significantly reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings occurring.

The most common pitfall our HR experts see is employers simply not having an employment contract in place because they’ve never had them or some might have them but they’re weak or poorly drafted – having an agreement in place is one thing, having an effective one is another.

It’s important to remember that some clauses included in contracts may be better suited to being included in company policies or employee handbooks rather than in an employment contract.

3. There’s nothing casual about casual conversion

Casual conversion changes have been in effect for more than a year and now that we’re well and truly past the imposed statutory mechanism for conversion, it’s important businesses are getting this right. Not only was this a massive change in the employment relations space but it also shifted the onus from essentially being an employee entitlement to request, to an employer’s legal obligation to offer conversion.

4. Records, records, records – make sure it’s not a broken one!

The Fair Work Act (2009) mandates that employers must keep employee records for a minimum of seven years and failure to comply with this will result in significant fines and harsh penalties. And if they’ve failed to keep adequate time and wages records or issue payslips, the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 also requires employers to disprove underpayment allegations in a court of law.

Records must be readily accessible to a Fair Work Inspector, legible, and in English and they cannot be falsified, misleading, or changed unless it’s to fix an error. If you’re not sure if you should keep it, it’s always best to keep it just in case.

Protect yourself, your business, and your people: how HR Assured can help?

To help you with any workplace compliance questions you might have, we’d like to offer you a FREE HR Health Check for your business. Our experts will complete a thorough evaluation of your HR that’ll help uncover any hidden risks before they become problems.


If any of the information in this article has raised questions about HR compliance for you or you’ve got another workplace matter you need advice on, please reach out to our experts via our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Not an HR Assured client? If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client, contact us today for an informal chat.