Common workplace myths on employment

From time to time, employers and employees have misunderstandings about their rights and obligations at work.

As an employer, it's important that you're aware of your responsibilities relating to employee rights, employment terms, contracts, leave and wages.

To sort fact from fiction, the Fair Work Ombudsman has put together some common workplace myths and busted them for you.

Working hours and pay

  • Myth: You don't need to pay employees for time spent opening/closing a store or attending training outside of normal work hours.

    Fact: You must pay your employees for all the time they are required to work.

  • Myth: You can send home your employees without pay if there isn't enough work.

    Fact: If you employ full-time or a permanent part-time employees, you cannot send them home without pay just because it’s quiet. If you employ casual staff, you can send them home as long as they have completed the minimum number of hours as defined under their award or agreement.

  • Myth: Lengthy unpaid work trials and unpaid work placements and internships are OK for all inexperienced young workers looking to get a foot in the door.

    Fact: Unpaid trials are only OK for as long as needed to demonstrate the skills required for the job. Depending on the nature of the work, this could range from an hour to one shift. Internships or unpaid work placements can be lawfully unpaid when they are part of an approved job training or work experience program or vocational placement and the work is done in accordance with the relevant program or placement.

Documentation, contracts and registrations

  • Myth: You don't have to give employees pay slips.

    Fact: You must give all employees pay slips within 1 working day of pay-day.

  • Myth: You can employ trainees without lodging any formal paperwork.

    Fact: You cannot pay an employee trainee rates just because they are young or new to the job, a registered training contract must be lodged.

  • Myth: If a worker has an Australian Business Number (ABN) they are an independent contractor.

    Fact: Having an ABN does not automatically make a worker an independent contractor.

Leave entitlements

  • Myth: Employees must work for you for 12 months before they can take leave.

    Fact: All leave starts to accrue as soon as employees commence work.

  • Myth: Casual employees don't get leave.

    Fact: Casual employees are entitled to some unpaid leave.

Termination of employment

  • Myth: You don't have to pay redundancy if you find another job for the employee or the employee finds another job.

    Fact: Redundancy is payable if the employee is terminated because the employer no longer needs their position to be done by anyone, or because of liquidation or bankruptcy.

  • Myth: You can fire an employee without notice, during their probation period.

    Fact: Employees who have been working for less than 12 months must get at least 1 weeks' written notice.

  • Myth: As an employer you have to give employees three warnings before firing them.

    Fact: There is no legal requirement that says you have to give three warnings. Despite there being no legal requirement, as an employer you may decide to give three warnings to employees as part of your internal policies and procedures.

Find out more...

It's important to know your responsibilities as an employer, as a breach in your employee's rights could result in possible penalties for your business.

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