The legal changes small businesses need to know about in the new financial year

This week can be a mad rush to get paperwork in order and plan for the year ahead, but from this Saturday businesses will also be facing a number of legislative changes that could affect how they do business.

With the 2017-18 financial year right around the corner, here are key changes you need to know about.

Penalty rates changes

From July 1, businesses will be able to roll out the first part of changes to Sunday penalty rates for workers in the fast food, retail, pharmacy and hospitality sectors.

These changes start with drops of 5% from the previous Sunday rates, with further cuts to be rolled out over the next three to four years.

SMEs have previously been reminded that just because the rates are changing, it does not mean they can implement the full cuts automatically and pay workers less than the transition rates decided by the Fair Work Commission.

To find out how the changes will be implemented for each award click here.

From July 1, changes to public holiday penalty rates for the awards specified by the Commission in its original decision will be implemented in full.

National minimum wage increase

Earlier this month, the Fair Work Commission decided on a 3.3% increase to the minimum wage, starting from July 1, and noted that it may have been too conservative in the past when deciding on an increase to the minimum wage.

This is an increase of $22.20 per week, and brings the minimum hourly rate to $18.29 an hour.

The minimum weekly take-home pay for full time employees will now be $694.90 per week.

Modern award wages will also be increased by 3.3% and weekly wages for awards will be rounded to the nearest 10c.

Changes to high-income threshold and maximum payout for unfair dismissal

From July 1, the Fair Work Commission’s high-income threshold will increase from $138,900 to $142,000. This means employees who earn more than $142,000 each year cannot make a claim against an employer for unfair dismissal. This amount includes the employees’ wages and the agreed value of non-monetary benefits, but does not include commissions, bonuses or overtime an employee might have earned.

The maximum amount the Fair Work Commission can order in compensation for an unfair dismissal case will also increase to $71,000, up from $69,540 last year.

Visa cost changes

From July 1, the costs of applying for visas will increase and visa application charges will be increased annually in line with the Consumer Price Index.

This means applications for visas for skilled workers, temporary workers and business talent will increase. The government has provided a fact sheet with details of the new fees and what applicants and businesses need to know here.

Changes to 457 class worker visas also changed in April after the government announced the previous scheme would be abolished and replaced with two new visas. If your business is considering employing workers on one of the new schemes, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has more information available.

CGT rules tightening

The government announced in the May budget that SMEs will be facing stricter rules on capital gains tax in the new financial year, with a plan to amend concessions so they can only be claimed on assets used exclusively within the business.

Superannuation changes

Businesses and self-employed individuals should keep track of how their retirement planning fits into the new superannuation landscape in effect from July 1. Changes include how many individuals are entitled to make a tax claim on super contributions if they are self-employed. Find out how the changes might affect you here.

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