Today, we are pleased to introduce one of our affiliates and guest blogger, Anna Pannuzzo from WorkPlacePLUS. In this post, Anna discusses some key workplace health, safety and other legal aspects of setting up or maintaining a sales office in Australia.
Expanding your business can be an exciting time, but setting up abroad comes with its own set of compliance challenges. If you are setting up an office in Australia, you must comply with a myriad of legislation and regulations around employing staff.
Ultimately, Directors or Senior Executives have the key responsibility of complying with the legal and regulatory requirements of running a business or organisation in Australia. Not meeting these obligations can result in criminal sanctions, civil sanctions, disqualification, penalties and commercial consequences such as brand damage, additional legal expenses, investigation costs, and potentially personal liability.
The legal and regulatory requirements related to employing staff include:
- Fairwork Act 2009
- Workplace Health and Safety Act (WHS)
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992
- AWARDS and Workplace Agreements
- Australian Taxation Office – PAYG and Superannuation Guarantee
Your employment contracts must comply with the minimum wage and employment conditions under various employment laws, awards, enterprise agreements and taxation laws. As a starting point, any employment arrangement in Australia must comply with the National Employment Standards.
In 2018, Fairwork began cracking down on employers who breach their employer obligations, such as failing to pay the correct base hourly penalty rates combined with inadequate or non-existent record-keeping. A reverse onus of proof can also now apply, meaning that employers who don’t meet record-keeping or pay slip obligations and can’t give a reasonable excuse will need to disprove allegations of underpayments made in a court.
Best practice for new employees is to induct them into your organisation, which can mean providing them with a copy of your workplace policies such as:
- Bullying & Harassment Policy
- Code of Conduct
- Use of IT and Social Media Policy
- Confidentiality Policy
- Workplace Health and Safety Policy, highlighting any potential workplace risks or hazards.
In 2014, new workplace bullying laws formed part of the Fair Work Act 2009. This WHS reform directly places obligation and liability on the employer and directors, who can be held personally liable if they fail to provide a workplace free from bullying and harassment. The legislation requiring employers to create a safe workplace environment free from violence, discrimination and harassment includes discrimination on the grounds of domestic and family violence. (Australia also has new domestic and family violence leave entitlements.)
In Australia, each state has its own WHS authority that polices and enforces the WHS legislation. Make sure your business or organisation complies with the health and safety regulations specific to your Australian state or territory.
Mitigate your exposure to risk by consulting with an experienced Human Resource advisor who can implement various support tools. A Human Resource and Industrial Relations specialist can help you ensure you are complying with Australian employment law, regulations and best practices.
WorkPlacePLUS offers a range of risk mitigation services to help ensure you are meeting your employment obligations. These include comprehensive HR audits, cultural reviews, performance management and change management support, training programs, conflict resolution and independent workplace investigations.
For more information, please contact Anna Pannuzzo on 0419 533 434 or visit WorkPlacePLUS.com.au.
Anna Pannuzzo, Director of WorkPlacePLUS, has extensive experience in workplace compliance and the people and culture of Australia’s health and community services sector, with 25+ years of senior HR management experience in various industries. She has been a guest speaker on ABC Radio National’s “This Working Life” program (formerly “Best Practice”), and has conducted professional training programs for some of Australia’s leading community, health, not-for-profit and aged care organisations. Anna’s nursing background provides a unique insight to the HR challenges facing many employers.