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Industrial relations

It's worth taking the time to do your homework when it comes to industrial relations. As an employer you need to understand your obligations under the Fair Work Act of 2009.

  • The Fair Work Act 2009 instructs businesses to comply with a safety net of minimum employment conditions, from the basics like providing pay slips and the maximum working hours right through to minimum wages and the rules around dismissing an employee
  • The wages and conditions you provide to employees must at a minimum comply with:
    • The National Employment Standards, and
    • The minimum wage or wages in a modern award

  • National Employment Standards (NES) are the 10 minimum entitlements employers must provide to full- time and part-time employees
  • Some of these entitlements do not apply to casual employees
  • The entitlements include:
    • The maximum hours an employee can work
    • An employee’s rights to request flexible arrangements
    • Leave requirements
    • Rights regarding public holidays
    • The conditions around redundancy
    • Call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 1394 or visit Fair Work Online.

  • Regardless of the size of your business, your employees are protected against unlawful dismissal
  • Unlawful dismissal includes dismissing someone because of their race, sex, colour, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer's responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin
  • It is also unlawful to terminate an employee’s employment if they are temporarily absent from work because of illness or injury, because of union involvement or non-involvement or because of absence from work during parental leave
  • There are additional guidelines for businesses with fewer than 15 employees within the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code of 2009:
    • If you dismiss an employee and they believe it is an unfair dismissal, the ex-employee can make a claim for unfair dismissal to Fair Work Australia
    • Ensure you have managed your employees appropriately to protect yourself from an Unfair Dismissal claim
  • Check with Fair Work Australia for any changes to the small business guidelines

  • It is fair for an employer to dismiss an employee without notice or warning if the employer believes, on reasonable grounds, that there has been serious misconduct including theft, fraud, violence and serious breaches of occupational health and safety procedures
  • For a dismissal to be deemed fair it is sufficient, though not essential, that an allegation of theft, fraud or violence be reported to the police
  • The employer must have reasonable grounds for making the report

  • In all other cases, the small business employer must give the employee a reason why he or she is at risk of being dismissed
  • The reason must be valid, based on the employee's conduct or capacity to do the job
  • The employee must be warned, preferably in writing, that he or she risks being dismissed if there is no improvement
  • The small business employer must provide the employee with an opportunity to respond to the warning and give the employee a reasonable chance to rectify the problem, having regard to the employee's response
  • Rectifying the problem might involve the employer providing additional training and ensuring the employee knows the employer's job expectations

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Important information

This advice has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the advice, please consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. View our Financial Services Guide (PDF 59kb).