How to employ staff in small business

However, employers must comply with their obligations to ensure that they treat their employees fairly and that their business is protected from employment claims.

This blog provides general guidance on the legislation that Australian businesses must be aware of when engaging employees and how to best protect an Australian business against employment claims.

What workplace legislation must employers comply with in Australia?

Employers must comply with their obligations to employees contained in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“FWA”) and the Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) (“FWR”). The National Employment Standards (“NES”) are set out within the FWA and must also be complied with.

Workplace health and safety legislation also applies and other legislation may apply depending on the type of arrangement your business has with an employee (e.g. if they are actually a contractor).

What is an industry award?

Industry awards are legal documents that outline the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. There are more than 100 industry or occupation awards that cover most people who work in Australia.

What entitlements do you need to provide to your business’ employees?

Each industry award will outline the minimum entitlements that an employer owes to their employees. These entitlements may include, but are not limited to, minimum rates of pay, overtime and leave.

How can you best protect your business from employment claims?

The best way to protect your business from employment claims is to have effective employment agreements in place with all employees. Employment agreements must be compliant with the FWA and the relevant industry awards. An employment agreement cannot provide less than the employee entitlements specified in the relevant industry award or the NES.

What is an employment agreement?

An employment agreement is a contract that governs the relationship between an employer and an employee. An employment agreement explicitly states the obligations of both parties, such as the service that will be provided by the employee and the remuneration and other entitlements the employee will receive from the employer.

What type of employment agreement should your business have in place?

Types of employment agreements

The type of employment will determine the appropriate agreement for your situation. Types of employment in Australia include:

  • Full-time employment
  • Part-time employment
  • Casual employment
  • Contracting (and sub-contracting)
  • Internships

The type of employment agreement that is appropriate will depend on your business’ arrangement with the employee. You should choose an employment agreement based on how often and over what period of time the person will work for you.

Another consideration is the tasks to be completed by the employee. For example, if you have hired an employee who will work every Friday on a permanent basis, then a part-time employment agreement may be the most appropriate. If you are hiring the services of a self-employed tradesman, then an Independent Contractor Agreement or a Service Provider Agreement may be the most appropriate for that situation. 

Industry-specific agreements

The appropriate employment agreement for your new employee will depend upon the industry in which your business belongs. The employment agreement should set out any industry standards such as safety standards and the industry award for the employed position.

How we can help

Business Kitz has a range of comprehensive employment agreement templates available for purchase including:

All products can be purchased at You can enquire about any of the above products by contacting Business Kitz on 1300 988 954 or by emailing

Legal advice

If you require legal advice or have any questions regarding engaging employees in Australia, please do not hesitate to contact Legal Kitz by phone on 1300 988 954 or by email at

The above information has been collected from relevant government websites and is subject to change. For the latest information regarding new or amended legislation, please refer to state and federal government websites.

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