The Law – things every employer should know
Whether you’re hiring staff for the first time, or have been an employer for a while, it’s important that you understand what the law requires you to do. This section provides the resources to help you understand your rights and responsibilities.
You must must give all new employees a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement, which provides basic information on matters that will affect their employment.
The Fair Work Information Statement provides information to employees on:
- the National Employment Standards
- flexible working arrangements
- protections at work
- how a transfer of business affects entitlements
- modern awards
- agreements under the Fair Work Act 2009
- ending employment
- right of entry (including privacy laws to protect personal information)
- the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Commission.
The National Employment Standards (NES) are the minimum standards of employment which cover the following:
- Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours.
- Requests for flexible working arrangements – certain employees can ask to change their working arrangements.
- Offers and requests for casual conversion – the right for casual employees to become permanent employees.
- Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 of months unpaid leave and the right to ask for an extra 12 months of unpaid leave. Also includes adoption-related leave.
- Annual leave – 4 weeks of paid leave per year, plus an additional week for some shift workers.
- Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days of paid personal and carer’s leave (pro rata for part-time employees), 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave as required and 2 days of compassionate leave as required.
- Family and domestic violence leave – 10 days paid leave per year.
- Community service leave – unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service.
- Long service leave – paid leave for employees who have been with the same employer for a long time.
- Public holidays – a paid day off on a public holiday (unpaid for casuals), except where reasonably requested to work.
- Notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to 5 weeks’ notice of termination and up to 16 weeks’ redundancy pay, both based on length of service.
- Provision of the Fair Work Information Statement and the Casual Employment Information Statement – the Fair Work Information Statement must be provided by employers to all new employees. Casual employees must also be given the Casual Employment Information Statement.
The NES apply to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system, however only certain entitlements apply to casual employees. Please refer to the following links:
- Introduction to the National Employment Standards – Fair Work Ombudsman
- National Employment Standards page
By law, you must make a copy of the Pastoral Award 2020 available to all employees. As with the NES, you can pin the Award to a noticeboard or distribute electronically, whichever gives employees the best access. As of 1 January 2010 the federal Pastoral Award 2020 covers all employees in the dairy industry, except some managers (and some employees in WA). See the Pastoral Award page.
To make sure you’re giving your employees all of their entitlements, you need to read the Pastoral Award 2020. The Pastoral Award sets minimum employment wages and conditions for dairy industry employees which apply on top of the National Employment Standards.
Clause 32 of the Pastoral Award deals with minimum wages, which is the lowest amount which can legally be paid to an employee. These minimum wage rates are reviewed each year by the Fair Work Commission. This is called the ‘annual wage review’. Any changes to minimum wages start to apply from the first pay period commencing on or after 1 July.
Your employee’s minimum wages depend on a number of things, including:
- your State or Territory
- their age (if they’re under 20)
- their job duties, responsible and any qualifications they’re required to have.
Other commonly overlooked entitlements are:
- loading for casual workers
- minimum three-hour shift length for casual or part-time staff
- 17.5% loading for annual leave.
You should make sure you, your managers and staff understand the laws that apply on your farm. These are a few key things that aren’t okay in the workplace:
- Unpaid work trials. You can’t ask people to work for free.
- Cash in hand payments. It’s against the law to pay an employee without taking out tax. This is called paying someone ‘cash in hand.’ You can pay an employee in cash as long as you deduct tax from their earnings and send it to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). For information on tax law, contact the ATO.
- Not giving employees a pay slip within 1 day of being paid. You need to give them a pay slip that has certain information on it – see Payroll Section of the Eski module for details and a template.
- Not paying employees in money – giving them goods (including food) or services instead of pay is against the law.
- Making unlawful deductions from employees’ pay. Payroll deductions can only be made in very limited circumstances – refer to Payroll Section.
- Not giving employees the meal breaks or rest breaks set out in the award or agreement.
- Unreasonably refusing employee requests to take their leave entitlements.
- Sham contracting. Independent contracting is where one business does work for another business. Independent contractors usually use their own equipment, choose what hours they work, decide how they do the work, pay their own tax and have an ABN. Some employers try to avoid paying minimum rates, tax and entitlements by claiming that someone is an independent contractor or share farmer when really they’re an employee. This is called ‘sham contracting’, and it is illegal – refer to FAQ – Contractor or employee? and FAQ – Share farmer or employee?
Is your employee entitled to work in Australia?
Fair Work audits do happen!
In February 2013, Fair Work Inspectors conducted face-to-face visits to about 70 randomly selected employers in Cobram, Corowa, Echuca, Moama, Mulwala, Rutherglen, Tocumwal and Yarrawonga. Inspectors checked that employers were complying with record-keeping and pay slip obligations, including giving employees sufficiently detailed pay slips within one working day of pay day and keeping correct time-and-wages records.
The ESKi is designed to get you started, and is integrated with the resources on this website. The People in Dairy website is still the ‘top copy’ for managing people issues on your farm.
You can use the information and templates on this website to develop processes and/or documents that will help make your farm safer.
The documents and links below will help you with this topic.
|National Employment Standards||web page|
|Pastoral Award 2020|
|FAQ – Contractor or employee?|
|Share farmer or employee- what’s the difference?||web page|
|Hiring people from overseas||web page|
|Employment & Reward||web section|
- Have all employees been given a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement?
- Is the Pastoral Award 2020 available to all employees covered by the award?
- Are the National Employment Standards available to all employees?
- Are all casual and part time employees engaged for a minimum of 3 hours?
- Do you pay 17.5% leave loading on holiday pay?
- Does your employee have a valid Australian work visa?
- Do you know the difference between a contractor and an employee?