Business Advice

Fair Work Ombudsman launches ‘Small Business Showcase’ rule book of workplace regulations

Benjamin Savona /

Royal Commission

Kate Carnell, small business ombudsman. Source: Supplied.

The Fair Work Ombudsman today launched its Small Business Showcase, a range of digital resources that come together as a rule book for doing business in Australia. 

The showcase has been launched as a matter of necessity, with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s helpline dedicated to small business reporting it has received in excess of 500,000 calls since its inception in 2013.

No matter what stage a company is at in its life, the showcase outlines minimum obligations that businesses are expected to meet in order to operate legally. These include:

Hiring employees

The first available resource on the newly launched platform is a guide to the correct approach that businesses should take when hiring a new employee. This resource includes information surrounding payment legalities, types of employment (full-time, part-time and casual), and tips on approaching the hiring process. Nine template resources have also been made available for businesses to use for free.

Paying employees

This is a resource surrounding the importance of paying all employees correctly for their work within a small business. This includes a guide to what employees should be paid for, how often employees should be paid and the legalities surrounding payslips. A section is also dedicated to deductions in salary and overpayments, and a pay calculator has been made available for business owners in this section.

Keeping the right records

Record keeping is an integral and mandatory part of maintaining any business. This section is dedicated to allowing business owners to take part in an online course which stipulates the most effective practices of record keeping. Six templates are also made available to assist small business owners in this area.

Leave and other requests

This section is dedicated to helping small business operators navigate managing employee requests. Information includes annual leave requests, sick and carers leave (and the ability to request evidence), parental leave and any other forms of leave including compassionate leave. There are over 10 downloadable resources made available in this section.

Managing employees

This is an area dedicated to managing an employees performance.Alongside a number of online learning modules made available through the Fair Work website, 10 downloadable documents are made available. The online courses range from: Managing employees, managing performance and dealing with underperformance, management of difficult conversations within the workplace and warnings.

Ending employment

This area focuses on the rules surrounding dismissal, which includes notice periods, final pays, redundancy and unfair dismissal.

Small business checklist

This area simplifies for small business owners whether they are following a range of correct practices. This acts a ‘self-auditing’ tool for small businesses to ensure that they are doing the right thing.

Other areas include allowing small businesses to keep up to date with any changes that may affect existing laws and practices and a follow-up area for small businesses which includes a number of available resources.

A spokesperson for the Fairwork Ombudsman has told SmartCompany the materials aim to make even easier for small businesses to access the information they need to implement positive workplace practices and ensure compliance with workplace laws.”

The statement continues to suggest that small business owners are “overconfident when it comes to workplace compliance” and have found that small businesses consistently have lower rates of workplace compliance when compared to big businesses.

“We are urging small businesses across Australia to participate in the Small Business Showcase to ensure they’re up-to-date with their obligations under workplace law,” the ombudsman said in a statement.

“We know that small business owners can be time-poor and can find the workplace relations system difficult to navigate. This showcase provides a virtual hub to make it easy for small businesses to access a range of resources that will help them succeed,” it said.

Will this help SMEs day-to-day?

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell believes that although the launch of the showcase is a step in the right direction, there are more underlying issues that small businesses are faced with.

“It is important that they (small businesses) know that they can rely on information,” Carnell tells SmartCompany.

“This is a really good step in the right direction, however, we need a simplification in the area,” she says. 

Carnell believes that there are far too many complications when it comes to regulations for smaller businesses and the law can quickly become confusing for SMEs.

“It shows what the problem is, doesn’t it? The concern is that the system is really complex, what we believe is there should be one site that you can go to for truth, you know you can rely on,” she says. 

“I think that it is really good, a great step in the right direction but small businesses simply don’t have the time and the expertise.

“Education is really important but it is even more important to get the basics of the implementation of the fair work act to make it simple for small businesses to comply.”.

NOW READ: ATO warns small businesses it will come knocking in 2018, after netting $1.8 million from random Melbourne audits

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Benjamin Savona

Benjamin Savona is a former SmartCompany journalist.

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