There are workplace laws that apply to all employees in the national workplace relations system. Before hiring a new employee, an employer should make sure that they know about their responsibilities under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
The National Employment Standards
There are 10 National Employment Standards (NES) that apply to all employees in the national system.
Awards & Agreements
A modern award is a document that sets out the minimum wages and conditions for an industry or occupation. They apply on top of the NES. Modern awards cover things like pay, hours of work, rosters, breaks, allowances, penalty rates and overtime.
An enterprise agreement is a document that sets out the minimum wages and conditions for a workplace. When an agreement is in place, it will usually apply instead of the modern award. The agreement is negotiated between the employer, a group of employees and their representatives. The agreement is then lodged with the Fair Work Commission for approval.
Award/Agreement free employees
Some employees will not be covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement. These employees are considered to be award/agreement free. These employees are still entitled to the national minimum wage and the NES.
Employees must be paid at least the minimum wage provided in their award or agreement. If they are not covered by an award or agreement, they must be paid at least the national minimum wage. Pay rates are based on an employee’s duties and other factors like their age and qualifications. If an employee’s duties change, their wage may also change. Wages usually increase on 1 July every year.
Record-keeping & Pay Slips
An employer needs to keep written time and wage records for each employee. This includes records about:
- their employment including:
- the employee’s name;
- the employer’s name and ABN;
- whether the employee is full-time or part-time, permanent, fixed term or casual;
- the date on which the employee began employment,
- hours of work;
- superannuation contributions;
- termination of employment;
agreements relating to an individual’s employment including individual flexibility agreements and guarantees of annual earnings.
These records must be kept for at least seven years. An employer should also give all employees a pay slip within one day of paying their wages.
Discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Employees (or potential employees) cannot be discriminated against because of their race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.
Taxation & Superannuation
Employers need to meet tax obligations for all workers. This includes PAYG withholding and superannuation on behalf of their employees. Some employers will also have to pay payroll tax when their total wages exceed a certain level called the ‘exemption threshold’.
Workplace Health & Safety and Worker’s Compensation
As an employer, it is their responsibility to provide a healthy and safe working environment for their employees. An employer should also pay worker’s compensation insurance for their employees.