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Laws about employing

As an employer, you will need to follow certain laws when employing people, including federal and state laws, and in some cases, industrial awards and agreements.

The laws and conditions protect both you and the people you employ and provide guidelines in which to work within. Below are some examples of important laws and conditions for employing people in South Australia. These can assist you in understanding how to employ people, under what conditions, your obligations to them and their obligations to you.
  • Types of employment

    You can employ people under all business structures.

    There are different types of employees, any or all of which may have a place in your business. The most common types are:
    • full-time – generally employed for 37.5 hours a week
    • part-time – less than 37.5 hours a week, with a guaranteed minimum number of hours
    • casual – an employee’s work hours may vary from week to week, depending on business demands
    • fixed term – an employee is hired for full-time or part-time work, but for a fixed period.

    You may also consider using contractors. Your obligations to contractors are different to those for employees.
    The Fair Work Ombudsman has more information about employment types.
  • Overseas employment

    Sometimes the skills you need aren’t always available locally, so one option is employing overseas workers to support your business.
    You can employ workers from overseas who are in Australia, and who are eligible to work here, such as:
    • international students
    • visitors on working holiday visas
    • refugees with protection (subclass 866) or humanitarian (all subclass 200s) visas
    • skilled migrants with skilled visas.
    You can also employ people who are living overseas but agree to work in Australia by:
    • Sponsoring a worker permanently
    • Sponsoring a worker temporarily
    • Entering a labour agreement with the Australian Government to employ a number of overseas skilled workers.
    For more information about employing overseas workers visit Immigration South Australia.
  • Pay and conditions

    The pay and conditions you offer can be an important factor in recruiting talented employees.
    For many industries, workers’ pay and conditions are governed by laws and agreements. If your business operates in one of these sectors you’ll need to ensure you offer and abide by the conditions outlined in these agreements.
    If you’re not covered by industrial awards and agreements, investigating the standard conditions for your sector can help you determine the appropriate pay and conditions for your employees.
    For more detail, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s employee pay and entitlements pages.
  • Superannuation

    All employees in Australia are covered by the Australian Government’s superannuation legislation, whether they are full-time, part-time, or casual workers. You must meet your superannuation payment obligations to your employees.  This includes paying ‘super’ contributions of at least 9.5% of their earnings.
    If you're a sole trader, or in a partnership and have no employees, you can decide to make self-contributions to your super fund to help you save for your retirement, however, you're not obliged to pay super.
    Learn more about business owners’ superannuation obligations.
  • Record keeping

    If you employ people, you are legally obligated to keep records about their attendance, leave, pay, superannuation payments, and evidence of performance and professional development. These records will be important if you have disputes with current or past employees.
    You should store your employee records in a safe place, as Australian law requires business owners keep employee records for at least seven years.
  • Equal opportunity

    As a business operator in Australia, you need to comply with laws and policies designed to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
    These laws cover hiring practices and how you and your workers should treat each other with respect, regardless of gender, age, level of education and experience, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, religion, or other personal characteristics.
    You should also consider the benefits of actively building a diverse workforce.
    You can find more information in Australian Human Rights Commission factsheets.
  • Workplace health and safety

    As a business operator, you need to provide a safe working environment for your employees and any visitors to your business premises.
    Providing a safe work environment reduces the risk of injury and illness among your staff and increases productivity.
    You should also consider whether you need to provide safe travelling conditions for your employees.
    For more information go to Safe Work Australia.
  • Bullying and harassment

    As an employer, you’re responsible for providing a safe workplace, free from harassment and bullying behaviour.
    You should have policies that prevent and discourage discrimination and other behaviours such as excessive or loud criticism, insults, setting unrealistic work targets or undervaluing others’ efforts. You should ensure all your employees are aware of these policies.
    The Australian Human Rights Commission has information and factsheets about discrimination, harassment and bullying.
  • Complaints and dispute resolution

    Even the most considerate and obliging business operator may become involved in a dispute with a current or former employee.
    Often, disputes can be resolved through a calm conversation, and your first step should be to try and sort it out in direct discussion.
    If you need help in having the conversation, you’ll find online sources of help on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
    If a dispute can’t be resolved through discussion, you can seek advice from the Office of the Small Business Commissioner or SafeWork SA.

Planning templates

Use these free planning templates and guides to help you better plan, prepare, manage, and exit a business. Investing time into proper research and planning can help turn your ideas into reality, and prepare you for what’s to come.

Business plan

A business plan works as a guide when your business is operating; how you operate, planning the future and preparing for risks. It is also often a required document for finance applications.

Marketing plan

An effective marketing plan can help you set clear, realistic and measurable marketing objectives for your business. It can boost your customer base increasing your bottom line.

Emergency plan

Your business is critical to your financial wellbeing, so you’ll want to protect it as much as you can against emergencies and disasters.

Succession plan

Planning for the day you leave your business is a valuable investment.

Our friendly team is here to help

If you need any assistance, please call 1300 142 820 for information relating to small business or visit our contact page for more information.