Human Resources 101

When to hire a staff member

As your business develops it will become necessary to employ staff, but how will you know when the time is right to take on a new employee?

The most important consideration when hiring staff is deciding what duties you are looking to cover. This list will be important when advertising the job. The more detailed the advertisement, the more likely you’ll receive applications that are suitable.


How to advertise

Ask employees whether they know anyone who would be interested in the new position. If you have established a good relationship with your staff it’s likely that anyone they recommend will have similar working qualities and qualifications.

Advertise in an appropriate location. In a similar way to marketing for customers, imagine where your ideal applicant will be looking and advertise there.

Your ad should include any qualifications you expect recruits to have and the level of experience you are seeking. The level of expertise you expect can be indicated by the wage or salary you are offering.

The pay you offer will be evaluated based on the applicant’s level of skills and experience. For a guide to pay rates in Australia for particular professions the job outlook section of the Federal Government’s Job Search guide offers statistics on average income, age and current demand for work in that area.

Just as you will advertise in the best locations to reach your customers, you should advertise jobs in places where you can best reach qualified employees. Advertising using online job search providers will often produce large numbers of applicants, although it may be beneficial to target your recruitment more directly towards your desired applicants.


What to look for

Once you have received applications for the job, you will need to create a short list of people to interview. Likely applicants should have been able to directly address the needs of your advertisement. You should seek to employ staff members who are:

  • Confident.
  • Energetic.
  • Adaptable.
  • Enthusiastic.
  • Self-reliant.
  • Honest.
  • Articulate.
  • Patient.
  • Persistent.
  • Reliable. 

Most importantly, ask yourself if you can imagine working with the applicant on a daily basis. They may be highly qualified, but you and the applicant must be able to sustain an easy professional relationship.

Be sure to confirm the credentials of your potential employee. Call their references to verify their working abilities and qualifications.



Questions to ask in the interview

Why is the applicant interested in working for you? What aspect of the job advertisement appealed to them? By asking these questions you are trying to discover whether they are interested in working in your business, or are just seeking any job.

What does the applicant know about your business? If the applicant is truly interested in the position they should have tried to find out about the business. Have they looked at your website to inform themselves about your products and services?

Ask about the applicant’s most recent job. What was good about it, what was bad, and why did they decide to leave? This question will give you an impression of how your prospective employee interacts with others in a working environment.

What qualities does the applicant regard as their strong points? What areas do they seek to improve in? This allows the applicant to talk about the skills and qualities they are bringing to your business. Identifying the areas they want to improve will show self awareness and an ability to learn from their experiences.

Where does the applicant see themself in five years? Establish the ambitions of the candidate and find out what their expectations are in regard to the job.

Offer a hypothetical working problem and ask how the applicant would handle the situation.


What do once you’ve hired a new employee

Register with the tax office to deduct tax from their wages (PAYG). Set up employment records. Pay superannuation. Comply with occupational health and safety laws.



You are required to immediately register for PAYG withholding tax when you take on employees or when you receive an invoice from a business that doesn’t quote an ABN.

The most common payments you need to withhold amounts from are:

  • Payments to your employees.
  • Payments to your business directors.
  • Payments to any business that doesn’t quote its ABN.

You may also need to withhold amounts from:

  • Payments to contractors who have a voluntary agreement with you.
  • Payments to individuals under labour hire arrangements.
  • Eligible termination payments.

If you run your business through a company or a trust, you will have to withhold an amount from your wage or director’s fee and send this to the tax office.

If you operate as a sole trader or a partnership, you don’t withhold PAYG from your earnings, as they are likely to be irregular earnings based on the current finances of your business. However, if you have other employees, you should withhold amounts from payments to them under the PAYG withholding system.

The tax office publishes tables showing how much should be withheld based on weekly, fortnightly, monthly and quarterly earnings. These are available here.


Employment records

You are legally required to keep accurate time and wages records and issue pay slips to each employee. Records of your employee’s work hours and income must be kept for at least seven years.



Your employees are entitled to superannuation contributions as soon as they commence working for you, regardless of any award or contract.

You pay superannuation contributions on at least a quarterly basis. Payments must be made within 28 days of the end of each quarter.


Quarterly cut-off date

Quarter 1

1 July – 30 September

28 October

Quarter 2

1 October – 31 December

28 January

Quarter 3

1 January – 31 March

28 April

Quarter 4

1 April – 30 June

28 July



Super payments are calculated as 9% of your employee’s earnings for the quarter.

Your employee can choose which super fund they want to use. You will need to supply your new employee with a super choice form within 28 days from the time they commence working for you. That form can be downloaded from the tax office here.


Occupational health and safety laws

You need to ensure your employees’ safety by providing:

  • A workplace free from dangers to health, safety and welfare.
  • Safe and adequate machinery, equipment and substances.
  • Plans, procedures and work methods that protect the safety of your staff.
  • Adequate instruction, information, training and supervision.
  • Staff members qualified to deal with any safety or health problems.

You also need to:

  • Identify and correct any workplace hazards.
  • Consult with your workers to ensure a safe workplace.
  • Investigate incidents and take actions to prevent their reoccurrence.
  • Provide ongoing training for staff.
  • Seek to constantly improve work practices.

Laws affecting occupational health and safety differ across various states, territories and industries. The regulations relevant to your state can be sought here.


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