8 Things to Know About Fair Work Compliance

1. Know that Fair Work does apply to you

Nearly every one of Australia’s 2.1 million employers is bound by the Fair Work Act. Many small businesses may not be aware of the requirements and could risk big penalties.

2. Give the National Employment Standards to every employee

The National Employment Standards (NES) apply to every employee in the national workplace system and cover basic rights such as the number of hours in a work week, time off, flexible work patterns, public holidays, notice periods and redundancy pay. Your business will risk a fine of up to $54,000 if you do not provide each employee with a copy of these standards as soon as possible after they start their job.

3. Understand what “reasonable” overtime means

Beyond the 38-hour work week prescribed by Fair Work, any additional hours must be considered “reasonable”, dependent upon the circumstances. Fair Work says you must weigh the needs of the employee who has been asked to work overtime against the needs of the business. You must also consider the nature of their position, how much they will be paid, how much notice is given and the typical working patterns of your industry or occupation.

4. Know your awards (or pay someone else to)

While almost all employees are covered by the ten basic employment conditions know as the National Employment Standards, there are many employees who are also protected by detailed workplace standards known as awards or modern awards. These vary by occupation or industry and also take into account the employee’s experience and qualifications and type of employment.

5. Check that your managers really are award-free

Some exemptions from Fair Work awards are common in accounting, finance, marketing, legal, human resources, public relations and information technology industries. However, these are not universal so it’s wise to check industry definitions, job classifications and relevant industry awards.

6. Take another look at your payroll (and hire a good bookkeeper)

Fair Work’s wage regulations can be quite complex, so it’s a good idea to hire an expert to handle this side of the business for you. You must consider checking each relevant award for variations in regard to minimum pay as well as penalty rates for employees who work outside their normal hours, in dangerous conditions or are using their own tools.

7. Get your record-keeping right

Employees must be provided with pay slips either electronically or in hard copy within one working day of being paid. Company wage records and employee timesheets are required to be kept for seven years and be readily accessible.

8. Ensure you’re doing the right thing with time off

There are several rules to follow when it comes to things such as breaks and rosters, flexible working arrangements and annual leave. Remember, it’s important to check the relevant award for each employee to ensure compliance with the Fair Work Act.

For advice regarding compliance with the Fair Work Act, please contact us on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au


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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.