Employers' Obligations

Under Australian law, all employers have obligations for employees in relation to insurance, tax, superannuation, employment records and employment health and safety etc.


As an employer you are responsible for worker's compensation insurance cover to protect your employees. This insurance is compulsory. You might also have to extend your cover to include sub-contractors working for you. 

Taxation and superannuation

If you have people working in your business you need to meet your taxation and superannuation obligations. Your obligations will differ depending on whether your workers are employees or contractors. Your obligations could include:

  • Pay as you go (PAYG) withholding 
  • Superannuation Guarantee
  • Fringe benefits tax (FBT)
  • Payroll tax

For more information on PAYG withholding, see our page on Tax Registrations, to find out more about your obligations for Superannuation Guarantee, FBT and Payroll Tax see Other Tax Obligations.

Employment records

You will need to keep a range of employment records relating to employees including tax file number declarations, worker payment records, PAYG payment summaries, superannuation records and FBT details. You must keep all time and wages records of each employee for at least seven years. These records should be in plain English and easy to read.

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Employee health and safety

A safe workplace is critical to the success of any business, no matter the size. Every business owner in Australia has certain rights and responsibilities regarding health and safety in the workplace. Even if you don't employ workers, you must ensure that your business doesn't create health and safety problems for your customers and the general public.

Knowing and understanding the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) laws will help you avoid the unnecessary costs and damage to your business caused by workplace injury and illness.

WorkCover WA is the government agency responsible for overseeing the workers' compensation and injury management system in Western Australia. You can find easy-to-use guides on the Publications for Employers section of the WorkCover website, including:

  • Workers' Compensation and Injury Management : Important Information for Employers
  • Injury Management: A Guide for Employers
  • Who covers my interstate employees for workers' compensation
  • and many more...

Changes to workers' compensation legislation
WorkCover WA also provides the information (for Western Australia) about the first-stage changes to the Workers' Compensation and Injury Management Amendment Act 2011 that started on 1 October 2011. Go to the WorkCover website for more information.

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Legal obligations

Your obligations to employees and other workers will depend on which labour relations system your business falls under.

Depending on your business structure, your obligations come from a variety of sources - national, state and territory laws, industrial awards and agreements, tribunal decisions and contracts of employment.

Businesses operating as either a sole trader or partnership will generally fall under the State labour relations system.

If your business operates in a company structure, it will generally fall under the National Fairwork System.

If you are unsure which system applies to you, contact the Department of Commerce for guidance. For a definitive ruling on which labour relations system you operate within, you may need to seek legal advice.

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Paid Parental Leave

Australia's first national Paid Parental Leave scheme provides 18 weeks' pay at the National minimum wage for eligible, long-term employees who are the primary carer of a newly born or adopted child. Read more...

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What's next...

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Related Information

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