Step 8: Employing staff

You’re an employer for the first time – so where do you start?

You will need to register for PAYG before you can start paying wages to your employees. See Regulatory requirements – Register for PAYG withholding. [link to regulatory requirements page step 6] for more information.

You will need to give each employee a Tax File Declaration Form, you can order this form from the ATO website. You will need to complete section B of this form and lodge it with the ATO within 14 days after the form is signed by the payee.

You need to provide your employees with a Standard Choice Form which  allows them to select the superannuation fund of their choice.  This form is available from the ATO website. You must complete Section B with the details of your employer nominated super fund prior to giving it to your employee to complete. The information provided by your employee will detail whether they want to use your nominated fund or a preferred fund of their choice. There is no need to lodge this form, you will keep it on record and use the information provided by your employee for future payments to their superannuation fund.

Your Superannuation Obligation to Employees

The purpose of superannuation is to make sure as many Australians as possible will have income support when they retire. This is currently achieved via Australia’s superannuation guarantee law, which requires employers to pay at least 9.5% of employees gross earnings into a complying superannuation fund or retirement savings account (RSA) selected by the employee.

As an employer, you need to:

  • calculate an amount of at least 9.5% of each of your eligible employees’ base earnings
  • pay this amount to a superannuation fund or retirement savings account at least every quarter and by the due date
  • keep a record of all contributions you make on behalf of your employees
  • keep a record of when and how you reported superannuation contributions to your employees, please note, special reporting requirements apply to superannuation payments made as fringe benefits or salary sacrifice

If you fail to pay your employees’ super contribution by the due date each quarter, you will have to pay the superannuation guarantee surcharge in addition to the amount you are obligated to pay under the superannuation guarantee law.

Quarter Period Payment Due Date
1 1 July - 30 September 28 October
2 1 October - 31 December 28 January
3 1 January - 31 March28 28 April
4 1 April - 30 June 28 July

As an employer, you must report in writing at least once every quarter to each employee, the details of:

  • the contribution amount you have made to their superannuation fund
  • the name of fund into which the payment was made
  • the employee's account number, if known

As an employer, you ARE NOT legally obligated to pay superannuation to an employee who is:

  • paid a salary or wage of less than $450 in a month, or
  • under 18 years of age and works less than 30 hours a week, or
  • aged 70 or over

HELPFUL HINT: the ATO has an online Superannuation Guarantee Contributions Calculator to help you calculate how much super you need to pay each employee.

What minimum employment conditions are your staff entitled to?

From 1 January 2010, employers and employees in the Australian workplace are covered by the new National Employment Standards (NES), as set out in the Fair Work Act 2009.

In addition to the NES, generally an employee’s terms and conditions of employment come from a modern award, agreement, award and agreement based transitional instruments, minimum wage orders, transitional minimum wage instruments, state or federal laws.

The terms contained in the NES will override any less favourable conditions in any award, collective agreement, individual workplace agreement or common law contract.

The NES comprises of 10 minimum standards of employment, as summarised below:

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work: 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements: allows parents or carers of a child under school age or of a child under 18 with a disability, to request a change in working arrangements to assist with the child’s care
  3. Parental leave and related entitlements: up to 12 months unpaid leave for every employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, plus other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave
  4. Annual leave: 4 weeks paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers
  5. Personal/Carer’s leave and compassionate leave: 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required
  6. Community service leave: unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service
  7. Long service leave: a transitional entitlement for certain employees who had certain LSL entitlements before 1st January, 2010 pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard
  8. Public holidays: a paid day off on a public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay: up to 4 weeks notice of termination (5 weeks if the employee is over 45 and has at least 2 years of continuous service) and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay, both based on length of service
  10. Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement: employers must provide this statement to all new employees. It contains information about the NES, modern awards, agreement-making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, rights of entry, transfer of business, and the respective roles of Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman. [download copy here]

For more comprehensive information and advice about Australia’s new national workplace relations system and up-to-date information about minimum wages visit the Fair Work website.

What is Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)?

This is a tax paid on certain benefits that you may provide to your employees in place of, or in addition to, salary or wages. FBT is separate from income tax and is based on the taxable value of the fringe benefit. The term ‘benefit’ is broadly defined and includes any right, privilege, service or facility. So, a benefit could be the use of something (e.g. the use of a car), ownership of something (e.g., clothing), or enjoyment of a privilege or facility.

Record keeping for your employees

As an employer, you are required under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 requires you to keep records of:

  • the dates and hours your employees work and how much they are paid (you are also required to give your employees regular pay slips with these details)
  • the start and end date of employment, contract end date
    what agreement governs their employment (for example, award, workplace agreement, contract)
  • the start and finish times of employees who can get overtime
  • how much unused leave employees have
  • superannuation contributions