Legislation and Regulation

Research and Development Tax Incentive

Increasing investment in Research and Development (R&D) is critical to boosting innovation, productivity and competitive advantage.  The R&D tax offsets provides targeted, generous and easy access support for eligible R&D activity.
Effective from 1 July 2014 the benefits available have changed as follows:

  • the refundable R&D tax offset will reduce from 45 per cent to 43.5 per cent (for eligible companies with turnover less than $20 million); and
  • the non-refundable R&D tax offset will reduce from 40 per cent to 38.5 per cent (for eligible companies with turnover of greater than $20 million).

Companies register their eligible R&D activities with AusIndustry and claim the tax offset in their company tax return through the Australian Taxation Office.
Your company must keep adequate records to demonstrate that it carried out eligible activities and incurred the claimed expenditure. Find out more information and to see if your business is eligible at business.gov.au

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Paid parental leave – March 2014

The Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 would allow for parental leave pay to be paid directly by Centrelink from March 1, 2014. The change will make it easier for employers, who will no longer have to administer the scheme themselves.

Impact on small business

Employers will still be able to opt in to provide parental leave pay to their employees should both the employer and employee agree to this arrangement. Prior to this, the system required employers to process parental leave pay after receiving an employee’s entitlement from Centrelink. It was unnecessarily complex, and forced small businesses to bear the costs of the extra workload and of restructuring their payroll and accounting systems

Paid parental leave - June 2011

The Federal Government has introduced a national Paid Parental Leave Scheme which commenced on 1 January 2011. Under the scheme, which is fully funded by the Government, eligible working parents will receive 18 weeks pay at the National Minimum Wage rate.

The Commonwealth Family Assistance Office will provide these payments to small businesses in advance, with the direct payments to parents needing to be paid through the employer’s existing pay arrangements. As such, small businesses need to ensure they have their systems in place in order to disburse the paid parental leave payments.

More information on the Paid Parental Leave Scheme and an employer’s role in the scheme can be found at the Family Assistance Office

Privacy law reforms

Changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) will come into effect from March 2014 to provide better protections to individuals with regard to how personal information is collected, used and stored.

These changes include 13 new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) replacing the existing National Privacy Principles.

Impact on small business

Under the Privacy Act all businesses with an annual turnover of $3 million or more are required to comply with the APPs.

The Privacy Act also applies to small businesses with an annual turnover of $3 million or less, that are either:

  • a health service provider (including but is not limited to medical practitioners, pharmacists, allied health professionals, naturopaths, chiropractors, gyms, and weight loss clinics);
  • trading in personal information for benefit, service or advantage;
  • related to a larger business;
  • a contractor that provides services under a Commonwealth contract;
  • an operator of a residential tenancy;
  • a credit provider or credit reporting agency; or
  • a reporting entity for the purposes of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

Penalties for non-compliance are significant, with the Australian Information Commissioner having the power to apply for fines of up to $340,000 for individuals and $1.7 million for businesses in breach of the APPs.

 

To assist small business operators preparing for the changes, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has developed a suite of resources including:

♦   APP Quick Reference Tool

♦   Australian Privacy Principles and National Privacy Principles – Comparison Guide

♦   Privacy Fact Sheets (related to various industries)

♦   Privacy Business Resource 2: Privacy Act Reforms – Checklist for APP Entities (Organisations)

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Liquor licensing

Changes to “liquor without a meal” rules for small WA restaurants - June 2013

Recent changes in the application process for a Liquor Without a Meal (LWM) permit mean that restaurants in Western Australia which hold 120 people or less can now serve liquor to patrons who do not buy a meal.

The change came into effect on 4 June 2013, with the State Government removing the Public Interest Assessment for smaller, low risk venues, to reduce the time and expense of the approval process.

Now with the permit, liquor without a meal can be served until midnight, Monday to Saturday, and 10pm on Sundays. Also, restaurants will now receive their permits within 10 working days and the application fee has been reduced from $431 to $50.

Liquor licensing exemptions for small functions – July 2011

From 16 July 2011, amendments to the Liquor Control Regulations 1989 will be in place and will provide for BYO alcohol to be permitted at some live entertainment venues and small functions without a permit. The new exemptions are outlined below.

  • BYO alcohol is now allowed to be consumed in small chartered vehicles with no more than 14 passengers.
  • Where liquor producers have an association or representative body that hosts a cooperative stall at a local farmers market in an agricultural region, liquor may be sold (provided it is no more than 2.5 litres per person) or provided by way of free sample. Orders for larger quantities can be taken, to be supplied at a later date.
  • A business may supply a customer with a maximum of two standard drinks (or 1 litre of takeaway packaged liquor), provided the supply of liquor is gratuitous and ancillary to the purpose of the customer’s attendance at the business.
  • BYO alcohol is now allowed to be consumed at live entertainment venues with no more than 200 patrons.
  • The sale and supply of alcohol is now permitted at small occasional functions of no more than 100 attendees.

For more information, go to the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor’s website or view their Frequently Asked Questions

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Changes to retail shop lease legislation

The Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act 1985 regulates many retail shop leases in Western Australia.

Make sure you get professional advice before committing to leasing commercial premises. On 1 January 2013, important changes to retail shop laws came into force. There may now be issues important to your particular business circumstances. Refer to the detailed information on this website at:

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Reforms to the state industrial relations system

On 14 November 2012, the Minister for Commerce, the Hon. Simon O’Brien MLC, introduced a draft Bill into the WA Parliament which aims to reform the state industrial relations system.

The Labour Relations Legislation Amendment and Repeal Bill 2012 proposes that:

  • All State private sector awards be modernised and reviewed every four years.
  • The state’s unfair dismissal provisions be harmonized to bring them in line with the federal Fair Work Act 2009 provisions. One aspect of this is the proposed change where employees will only be able to lodge an unfair dismissal claim if they have worked for a small business (employing less than 15 people) for a minimum of 12 months, or six months for all other employers.
  • The right of entry provisions for unions be harmonised with the Fair Work Act 2009.
  • The process for determining the minimum wage be streamlined and that when calculating the state minimum wage, the Industrial Relations Commission take into consideration the capacity of employers to bear the wage increase.
  • Repealing the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 and incorporating statutory minimum conditions of employment in the Industrial Relations Act 1979. Some of the proposed minimum conditions are that permanent employees will be eligible for two days paid compassionate leave; employees with a disability will no longer be excluded from the minimum leave entitlements; and employers will be unable to make unreasonable deductions from the employees pay.
  • All employers will be required to provide employees with pays slips.

For a full list of the proposed changes, please go to the Department of Commerce

All interested parties were encouraged to submit comments to the Draft Bill. The consultation period closed on Thursday 31 January 2013. For a copy of the Draft Bill, Explanatory Memorandum and details of where to submit comments please go to the Department of Commerce/LabourRelations

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Changes to the licensing under the environmental protection regulations

On 11 May 2012, the State Government announced that certain categories of small business will no longer need to be registered with the Department of Environment and Conversation (DEC) or pay the $624 environmental charge under changes to the Environmental Protection Regulations.

Small businesses which are impacted by this change are those whose operations do not pose a significant risk to the environment, including small food processing facilities such as small abattoirs and prepared meat processors, through to small plastics manufacturers. In addition to no longer having to pay for registration, they are now no longer at risk of being fined $25,000 for failing to register with DEC.

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New building legislation

The new Building Act 2011 commenced on 2 April 2012. This new piece of legislation replaces the Building Regulations 1989 and parts of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1960.

The new rules that apply are:

  • builders can now choose a private certifier (a registered "building surveying contractor") to confirm the building design complies with building standards;
  • there is now a 10-day time limit for local governments to approve or reject a building application (providing the application has prior certification);
  • all prior approvals (planning, health, heritage and so on) need to be obtained before a certified application is made for a permit; and
  • when a builder has finished the building work covered by the building permit, they must submit a Notice of Completion to the local government within seven days. If a builder is unable to complete a project, a Notice of Cessation must be provided to the local government within seven days.

The Act also sets out the new process for:

  • obtaining a building permit;
  • the building standards that must be complied with; and
  • the new process for dealing with complaints.

To view the new legislation or to access a building form, visit the Building Commission website

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Increase in employment numbers for small retail shops

The State Government of Western Australia has amended legislation to enable small retail shop owners to now employ up to 18 staff compared to the previous limit of 13.

Small retail shops are able to open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, if they choose and small business operators now have the capacity to employ up to 18 staff. These legislative measures will enable more stores to trade 24/7 or to extend their current trading hours.

To apply for a free small retail shop certificate, contact the Department of Commerce's Consumer Protection Retail branch on 9282 0841 or for more information, go to the Department of Commerce website

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Unfair contract terms – Australian Consumer Law – June 2011

Businesses using standard form contracts may be affected by changes to the unfair contract term laws that came into effect on 1 July 2010.

The laws are part of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) reforms which replaced State and Territory fair trading acts and the consumer protection provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 with a nationally consistent generic consumer law. The ACL became fully operational on 1 January 2011.

As part of the reforms, there are new provisions regulating unfair terms in standard consumer contracts. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has produced a free publication for small businesses on the changes called A Guide to Unfair Contract Terms Law To find out more information or to access the guide, visit the ACCC

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