Labor Laws to Consider When Hiring Employees in Australia

What labor laws apply when hiring employees in Australia?

Australia has a copious number of attractive industries and markets for foreign businesses and investors. Whether in FinTech, mining, agriculture, or renewable energy, there are certainly lucrative opportunities for markets of all types. Consider everything here when hiring employees in Australia.

If you’ve already established yourself in one of these markets, or you’re looking in to expanding into the Australian market, one thing to be aware of is the host of employment laws in the country. While they can seem complex, a simple explanation of what to expect should put you on the path to success when hiring employees in Australia.

Biz Latin Hub can help you with hiring employees in Australia, whether you’re a Latin company looking to expand internationally or looking to develop trade between the continents. With 18 dedicated local offices across Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Australia, we can help you on either side of the ocean.

The Fair Work Act provides legislation for hiring employees in Australia.

Hiring employees in Australia – employment law governing body

The Fair Work Act of 2009 (FW Act) is the general basis for all Australia’s established employment law, as well as work, health and safety, and non-discriminatory regulations. The act creates a council, the Fair Work Commission (FWC), which oversees employment regulations, awards, and enterprise agreements.

On an annual basis, the FWC reviews minimum wage requirements for the country. Most recently, the commission deemed the minimum hourly wage in Australia would be AU$24.10.

Additionally, the FW Act states that employment contracts need not be in writing to make them official. Oral contracts suffice and hold up as legitimate. Once employment at an establishment begins, businesses are required to distribute a copy of the National Employment Standards to their new employees. These standards are covered in detail below.

The basics of employment law in Australia

The basics of employment law in Australia are based on the National Employment Standards (NES). This document outlines ten minimum employee entitlements in the workforce which employers must comply with. These minimum requirements are as follows:

  • maximum 38-hour work week for full-time employees
  • employees who have worked for a company for 12 months or more may request flexible working hours if they meet one of the six categories
  • employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave and may request an additional 12 months of leave
  • full-time employees are entitled to annual, paid leave
  • entitled to personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave, and unpaid family and domestic violence leave
  • granted paid leave for jury duty and unpaid leave for voluntary emergency management activities
  • paid leave for public holidays
  • long service leave
  • up to 5 weeks notice of termination and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay
  • Fair Work Information Statement

If a company does not comply with these standards, monetary damages may be awarded to employees, as well as possible legal repercussions enforced upon the business.

Employment Law and hiring employees in Australia
Hiring employees in Australia involves negotiation

Trade Unions in Australia

Much like labor culture in New Zealand, unions in Australia play a crucial role in the employment sector. The organization serves as a representative of the employee during disputes with their employer. Moreover, unions can serve as a bargaining tool during negotiations between employees and employers. Because of their vast involvement in the job market, it is important that businesses recognize and work with trade unions and their employees.

Under the FW Act, unions have a variety of rights within the workplace. These rights include, but are not limited to:

  • Representation of a member/potential member in legal proceedings
  • Entering a workplace to inspect safety standards, given they have proper permits and governmental approval
  • Investigating a suspected breach in health or safety protocol
  • Require employers to provide them with relevant documentation and/or records
  • Entering the workplace to speak with employees

Overall, unions in Australia exercise a fair share of power in the workplace and in regards to employment law. The activity levels of the unions in this country are comparatively higher than most other countries, so it is important to be aware of the rights and roles they play in employment.

Good legal reps make hiring employees in Australia easier 

How well motivated are Australian workers?

In general, these rules and regulations create a workplace environment where employees can feel safe and valued. According to Curtin University’s research report on Australia’s employee happiness in the workplace, over 40% of employees reported being very satisfied with their job. Comparatively speaking, this is a very high and favorable percentage.

Satisfied employees are typically more productive and profitable at work than unsatisfied ones. Employers stand to benefit from the implementation of these laws and the involvement of labor unions. Complying with the minimum standards is expected, but going beyond these and treating employees favorably could reap more benefits for the employer. Overall, abiding by employment law creates a safe and healthy work environment, but going above these expectations will pay off even more.

FAQs about hiring employees in Australia

In our experience, these are the common questions and doubtful points of our clients.

1. What are the labor laws in Australia?

The labor laws in Australia, as outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009, ensure that Australian workers have certain fundamental rights. These include a minimum wage, paid leave periods, compensation when necessary, and safe working conditions. Additionally, it is specified that employees should not exceed 38 working hours per week.

2. What are the working conditions in Australia?

Employers in Australia have a legal obligation to ensure a safe working environment for their employees. They are also required to have workers’ compensation insurance in case of any workplace accidents. The Australian Government oversees this system, and there are also state and territory laws that regulate workers’ compensation.

3. How many hours are in a standard work day in Australia?

Employees in Australia work up to 38 hours a week, which is equivalent to 7.6 hours per day.

4. What is the minimum salary in Australia?

The current national minimum wage in Australia is $24.10 per hour. Casual employees who are covered by the National Minimum Wage are also entitled to receive at least a 25% casual loading.

5. How is overtime paid in Australia?

Overtime in Australia is paid according to the Award. Employees are entitled to receive 150% of the minimum hourly rate for the first 2 hours of overtime worked from Monday to Saturday and 200% of the minimum hourly rate for any additional hours. On Sundays, employees are paid 200% of the minimum hourly rate for all hours worked.

6. What are the laws regarding employment termination in Australia?

Employers and employees in Australia are required to adhere to the notice period when terminating employment unless there is serious misconduct involved. In such cases, employees may receive payment in lieu of notice. The notice period varies depending on the length of service: employees with less than 1 year of service are entitled to 1 week’s notice, while those with more than 1 but less than 3 years of service are entitled to 2 weeks’ notice.

7. What are the requirements for terminating an employee in Australia?

To terminate an employee in Australia, employers must provide written notice of the day of termination. The notice period varies based on the length of service and enterprise agreements. The requirements for termination are as follows:

– Employees with less than one year of service are entitled to one week’s notice.
– Employees with more than one but less than three years of service are entitled to two weeks’ notice.

Alternatively, employers can choose to pay employees in lieu of notice, and this payment must include superannuation. It is important to note that immediate termination is only allowed for serious misconduct, which is defined as conduct that damages the trust between the employer and employee. Employers must also have a valid reason for dismissing an employee, such as poor performance or conduct.

8. What happens when an employee quits in Australia?

When an employee quits in Australia, their final termination pay should be paid within seven days. This payment should include any outstanding salary up to the termination date, accrued but untaken annual leave, and if applicable, long service leave entitlements. Additionally, the employee should receive payment in respect of their notice period if it is being paid in lieu.

Biz Latin Hub can help with hiring employees in Australia

Entering the Australian market presents businesses with a host of opportunities. Inevitably, growing business may need to consider hiring employees. The Australian labor market and its rules can be complicated to navigate. When starting your move to into markets ‘down under,’ contact Biz Latin Hub for all your commercial representation and back office needs

Biz Latin Hub’s award for Business Excellence by the Australian-Latin America Business Council demonstrates the support we receive from Australian institutions to connect businesses and support start-ups in the region.

Reach out to us for assistance in navigating Latin American and Oceanian markets.

Key services offered by Biz Latin Hub can help with hiring employees in Australia

The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.
Legal Team Australia
Legal Team Australia

Legal Team Australia is the Biz Latin Hub leading experts on doing business in Australia The Team writes on the news, doing business, law, and changing regulations. The team are experts in corporate law, Administrative law, Employment law, Immigration law and legal advisory services. Read more about them here. You can contact Legal Team Australia via our "contact us page".

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