Employment of workers in Australia is governed by federal and
state/territory legislation, which address matters such as:
long service leave;
compulsory superannuation contributions by employers;
occupational health and safety (OHS);
unfair contracts; and
Many workers' employment is also governed by federal
industrial awards or agreements in relation to matters such as
minimum rates of pay, working hours, overtime rates, sick leave,
annual leave and entitlements on termination of employment. The
main federal statute dealing with employment law is the Fair
Work Act 2009 (Cth).
The Fair Work Act requires employers to comply with
enforceable minimum employment terms and conditions which are
referred to as the National Employment Standards. The National
Employment Standards set out 10 minimum workplace rights and
entitlements for all employees covered by the national workplace
The Fair Work Act recognises a number of modern awards.
Modern awards are industry or occupation-based enforceable
employment standards which set out mandatory, minimum conditions
for employers and employees. Modern awards do not apply to
high-income earners (i.e. those employees who are paid a guaranteed
amount of at least A$123,300 a year (indexed annually).
Executive remuneration is also subject to regulation under the
Corporations Act. Part 2D.2 of the Corporations
Act prescribes the maximum permissible termination payment
that may be given to a person holding a managerial or executive
office in a company without shareholder approval. Further,
additional obligations exist that:
prohibit key management personnel from voting on remuneration
require companies to disclose details relating to the use of
remuneration consultants; and
in respect of listed companies:
require a general meeting to be held for the re-election of
directors if shareholder concerns on the remuneration reports of
the company are not adequately addressed over two consecutive
prohibit key management personnel from hedging their
OHS requirements exist at the state/territory level and have
recently been harmonised across Australia. In certain situations,
the employer's obligations may extend to independent contractor
arrangements. These requirements are stringent and strongly
enforced and significant penalties may apply for
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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