Running a business and making sure you are compliant and up to date with Australian workplace laws matters can be complicated and confusing.
For example, many business operators find themselves in trouble with the Fair Work Ombudsman for inadvertent underpayment of wages and entitlements.
Others find themselves in trouble for wrongly classifying contractors, or not understanding contracting or franchising arrangements.
Businesses that don’t have clear and detailed policies surrounding sexual harassment and discrimination can find themselves before courts, commissions or tribunals and ordered to pay hefty penalties and compensation to former employees.
Our team of specialist employment lawyers and industrial relations advocates can help employers with all manner of compliance matters, to ensure you always stay on the right side of workplace laws.
What is a modern award?
Most Australian workers are covered by a modern award, which sets out the minimum terms and conditions of their employment in a particular industry.
The sorts of terms and conditions set out in modern awards include things like:
- rates of pay
- penalty rates
- rosters and hours of work
Pay slips and record keeping
Workplace laws require small and large businesses to keep accurate records of the hours their employees work and how much they are paid.
As an employer, you must provide payslips to your employees within one working day of pay day, detailing a list of information including hours worked, hourly rate, superannuation withheld and any loadings.
What is wage theft?
Wage theft happens when you don’t pay your employees the legal minimum hourly rate, overtime, penalty rates and entitlements (including superannuation) which are set out in the modern award or enterprise agreement that applies to their role.
In many cases, greedy and unscrupulous employers commit wage theft deliberately as a way of stealing from their workers, but sometimes it happens as a result of innocent mistakes, or because managers misunderstand the details of a particular modern award.
You can be audited by the regulator
Inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman can conduct a surprise audit of your business at any time without giving you any notice.
They will check that you are paying the legal minimum rates of pay, including overtime and penalty rates, and any other entitlements that are set out in the modern award/s that apply to your employees.
They will also check that you are issuing correct payslips and keeping accurate records of the hours that your employees work and how much they are paid.
The penalties for contravening workplace laws including failing to comply with the terms and conditions of an employee’s award or agreement can be hefty.
Individuals can be penalised up to $12,600 for each contravention, and your business can be penalised up to $63,000 for each contravention.
For serious contraventions, where you deliberately knew that you were breaking workplace laws, the penalties are even higher – up to $126,000 for individuals per contravention, and $630,000 for companies.
How we can help
If you are having trouble understanding the terms and conditions set out in the modern award/s that apply to your employees, we can help.
Our specialist team of analysts at Industrial Relations Claims can explain the complex detail of any award to ensure you are not contravening workplace laws and are paying correct wages and entitlements.
We can assist employers develop robust policies surrounding sexual harassment and discrimination that will help protect you from an expensive and costly claim.
In addition, we also offer professional training in the areas of sexual harassment and discrimination, to ensure your employees understand their rights and obligations when it comes to appropriate workplace behaviour.
LAST UPDATED: March 2021
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