Employment law is a broad area of law that defines the relationship between you and your employees.
Comprised of Federal and State legislation, Australian employment law covers a range of matters that relate to the employer and employee relationship such as wages and working conditions, through to dismissal and discrimination in regards to age, race, and sexuality.
With a history spanning over 100 years of reform, the state of the Australian industrial relations system is constantly evolving. Employment law changes range from major reforms (e.g. WorkChoices in 2005, the Fair Work Act 2009, and Modern Awards 2010) through to smaller yet still vital changes that happen every year. For example, the Commission reviews Australia’s minimum wage every year.
It is your responsibility to stay informed on the latest legislation changes and implement them into your workplace policies and procedures. For advice on employment law consult a workplace relations specialist who can support your business.
The purpose of employment law is to regulate the relationship between employers and employees, while also protecting the rights of job applicants and former employees.
Complying with relevant guidelines and legislation ensures consistently fair dealings for all employees – such as during the recruitment process, day-to-day workplace interactions, right through to the dismissal procedure.
These laws also give you the right to expect reasonable performance and conduct from your employees. And they clearly set out the legal obligations you must follow when you hire and dismiss employees.
Every year, there are both minor and major changes to Australia’s employment regulatory landscape. Some changes affect only certain businesses and industries, while other changes affect every workplace across the country regardless of their industry.
Over the last couple of decades, employers have seen WorkChoices in 2005, the Fair Work Act in 2009 and Modern Awards in 2010. In 2014, new anti-bullying provisions gave extended powers for the Fair Work Commission to deal with bullying.
Always be sure to inform your employees on employment law changes and update your employee handbook too.
Here are some of the most significant changes to employment laws that have occurred in recent times.
Each year the Fair Work Commission reviews and updates the National Minimum Wage. These changes affect both Award-covered employees and Award-free minimum wage employees.
To find out about the most recent update please refer to our Minimum Wage guide.
As of 22 February 2018, agencies and organisations with existing personal information security obligations with an annual turnover of more than $3 million are required to comply with the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme.
As part of the Privacy Act 1988 this scheme states, when unauthorised personal information is accessed or released, and the breach itself is likely to cause harm or injury, the company is required to notify all individuals involved and the Office of Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
As of 1 October 2018, the FWC has instructed that all Modern Awards contain a clause to allow ‘regular casual employees’ the right to request their employment be converted to full-time or part-time employment.
According to the FWC, a ‘regular casual employee’ is a casual employee who has been given consistent and regular work for at least 12 months, with very little to no adjustments. Therefore, they could continue the same amount of work as a permanent full-time or part-time employee, as opposed to receiving ongoing casual employment.
For more information on hiring casuals, download our Hiring Casuals Toolkit.
Single Touch Payroll (STP) is a new payroll reporting scheme launched by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on 1 July 2018.
Under this scheme, if you employ 20 or more employees, you are required to report to the ATO every time you pay your employees. The information you need to give the ATO includes your employees’ salaries or wages, deductions, allowances, pay as you go (PAYG) withholding, and superannuation.