The quick guide to workplace legislation

If you’re a human resources manager then today’s workplace can be tricky to navigate, especially when changes to workplace legislation occur. Not only do you need to be up to date with the proper processes when hiring and firing staff, you also need to understand your obligations around pay and conditions as well as how to manage any industrial action.

While there are many obligations an employer has to its staff, there are some that are particularly crucial. Here’s a quick overview.

Fair Work Statement

The Fair Work Act highlights employers’ rights and obligations in the workplace, and most of the country’s employers and employees are covered under it.

Under the act, you need to provide new employees with a copy of the Fair Work Statement as soon as possible after they join the company. Failure to do so may result in you being hit with a penalty.

The statement provides information that helps employees understand their rights, such as an explanation of the National Employment Standards, their right to request flexible working arrangements, and the proper process that needs to be taken if they’re going to be fired or made redundant.

Occupational health and safety

Creating a safe and healthy workplace is essential, and many HR managers are responsible for ensuring this is delivered. OH&S rights are set out in legislation and penalties can be imposed if they are neglected or ignored by employers.

The basic right for employees is not to be put in a position where their health or safety is put at risk for the work they are carrying out.  The four deaths that resulted from the pink batts insulation disaster has been a reminder for many organisations about this requirement.

Workplace health and safety and workers’ compensation

In January 2012, new work health and safety laws were implemented in most states to harmonise existing OH&S laws around Australia. While similar to OH&S, the aim is to make it easier for businesses to comply with their requirements in different states and territories.

Safe Work Australia is responsible for developing work health and safety and workers’ compensation policy across Australia. Employees who are injured should have access to workers’ compensation as well as access to rehabilitation services that aid their return to work. It is usually the responsibility of the human resources manager to have up-to-date workers’ compensation insurance in place.

Workplace bullying

An emerging area for employers to be aware of is workplace bullying. On January 1, 2014, there will be new workplace bullying laws in place that will entitle employees to apply to the Fair Work Commission if they have been bullied at work. For more information, read up on how to spot and stop a workplace bully.

National minimum wage

If your staff are not covered by an award or agreement then they must be paid at least the national minimum wage. The full-time minimum wage is $622.20 a week. Casuals on the minimum wage are entitled to an extra 24 per cent or $20.30 above this amount.

If you work in human resources, it is important to stay up to date with current workplace legislation. You also need to have the proper systems in place to deal with any concerns from employees relating to their rights.

For more information, the Fair Work Ombudsman has published fact sheets that cover important workplace topics, or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

Share This Page