Legal obligations for employing people

Management success often relies on treating your staff well. Abiding by your legal obligations as an employer is the first place to start. Legal obligations to employees and other workers come from a variety of sources:

  • federal, state and territory laws
  • industrial awards and agreements
  • tribunal decisions
  • contracts of employment (whether written or verbal).

Some of your legal obligations as an employer include:

  • paying your employees correct wages
  • providing employees with pay slips
  • reimbursing your employees for work-related expenses
  • ensuring a safe working environment
  • ensuring you have workers compensation insurance for each employee
  • not acting in a way that may seriously damage an employee's reputation or cause mental distress or humiliation
  • not acting in a way that damages the trust and confidence necessary for an employment relationship
  • not providing a false or misleading reference
  • forwarding PAYG tax withheld amounts to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • making appropriate payment under the Superannuation Guarantee legislation. Read the Taxation and your employees page for more information.

You may also need to deal with Centrelink if you are an employer of Centrelink customers.  In this case, you may be asked to provide wage and employment details for your employees. Centrelink also has resources  to aid you in finding payments and services that can help both your business and your staff.

Legal obligations in your state or territory

Australian Capital Territory

Employing staff in the ACT - Business Development offers resources for employing and managing staff.

New South Wales

Managing employees - NSW Office of Industrial Relations outlines the obligations or duties of employers.

Northern Territory

Employing people - Explains employing people for employers in NT

South Australia

Wages and conditions - the SafeWork SA website provides information about what workers are entitled to receive.


Visit the Business Queensland website for information on your legal obligations as an employer.


Employing and managing people - Business Tasmania provide information, tools and checklists for employers.


Hiring and managing staff - if you plan to employ staff, you need to know what your obligations are under both federal and state legislation. Visit the Everyday-Law website for Victorian legal information.

Western Australia

Employing staff - information on wages, employment conditions and other workplace issues for WA.

What to do...

  • Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for more information about your employer responsibilities
  • Seek independent advice from a qualified accountant, tax planner or lawyer.

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