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30 August 2012

Fair Work Australia reminder

The national 'Fair Work Australia' system has been in place for a while now, however it is easy to forget about new rules when you don't regularly employ new staff. Ignoring the rules can be expensive – for example, not providing new employees with the information statement (see item 4 below) can come at a cost of $6,600 for an individual and $33,000 for a corporation, for each offense.

Accordingly, here is a refresher on the main points to note:

  1. Modern Awards are now in place, and include transitional provisions
  2. The National Employment Standards apply to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system, regardless of the award, agreement or contract of employment that applies to an employee. This means that 'non award based' staff who haven't previously been covered by legislation now are, and it is important to ensure that you aren't accidentally breaching the laws
  3. Records need to be kept. Click here for a 'self audit checklist' provided by Fair Work Australia to ensure your records are correct
  4. New staff need to be provided with a Fair Work Information Statement

In addition, you should keep in mind that some common practices are no longer 'okay' under the laws:

What's not okay?

  • Unpaid work trials are generally against the law. Staff should not be asked to work for free
  • Staff should be paid for all hours worked, including meetings or training and the time spent opening and closing the business
  • Not being given a pay slip. Staff should get a pay slip within 1 day of being paid
  • Staff should generally start and finish their shift at the rostered time, no matter how busy or quiet it is, unless the employee and employer agree otherwise
  • Getting goods or services (including food) instead of pay

This is not a substitute from seeking advice from professionals in the area – but will hopefully draw attention to areas requiring possible action.

For more details on the national system, we suggest you visit http://www.fairwork.gov.au.

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This Newsletter, of necessity, has dealt with matters of a technical nature in general terms only. Clients should contact us for detailed information on any of the items in the Newsletter. No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting in reliance upon any material in this Newsletter can be accepted by any member or employee of the firm.

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