Employment records - Employer obligations

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EmployerEmployee / worker

This information is only relevant to employers and employees in the WA state industrial relations system – sole traders, unincorporated partnerships, unincorporated trusts and some incorporated or not for profit organisations. Find out more on the Guide to who is in the WA state system page.

If you operate or are employed by a Pty Ltd business – you can find information on this topic on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

State employment laws are changing early in 2022

Learn more at Upcoming changes to state employment laws in Western Australia.

Legal requirements for employment records

All state system employers are legally required to keep employment records. 

Employment records can be written or electronic as long as they are in a form that can be printed. The records must be in English. Time and wage books can be used to keep employment records, however, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure the time and wage book includes all of the required information. Employers must keep all employment records for at least seven years after they are made for both current and past employees. Records relating to long service leave must be kept during the period of employment and for seven years from the date employment ends.

It is the employer who is legally required to keep the correct employment records. If the employer uses a third party (such as a book keeper) to manage payroll, the legal responsibility is still on the employer to ensure that the required information is collected and maintained.

Penalties for not keeping employment records

Employers can be fined up to $5,000 by the Industrial Magistrates Court for not keeping employment records or for keeping inadequate or fraudulent records. A common requirement that employers fail to observe is a lack of detail in keeping employment records, particularly for employees covered by a WA award.

Employers can also be fined for not providing employment records to Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety Industrial Inspectors. Industrial inspectors have statutory powers to investigate complaints from employees where appropriate and employers are obliged to provide records when required to do so.

Record keeping requirements

It is compulsory for employers to keep employment records for all employees detailing:

  • the employee's name
  • date of birth if under 21 years of age
  • date the employment started
  • total number of hours worked each week (this does not apply to award free employees earning $45,000 or more per year)
  • the gross and net amounts paid to the employee
  • all pay deductions and the reasons for them
  • all leave taken, whether paid, partly paid or unpaid
  • all information required to calculate long service leave entitlements and payment

If an employee is covered by a WA award, the employer must record the following additional information:

  • name of the WA award
  • daily start and finish time and meal breaks taken
  • employment status (such as full time, part time, casual)
  • employee classification under the award
  • any other information required by the specific WA award (such as address of employee, or hourly rate of pay)
  • any other details required to show the employee is paid in accordance with the WA award such as ordinary and overtime hours, allowances, and penalties

Access to records 

For information on who can access employment records, visit the Access to employment records page 

Employment record obligations publications

Wageline has two employment record obligation publications to help state system employers keep correct employment records.

The two publications each feature helpful step by step guides to record keeping and Wageline’s new look record keeping templates.

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