Overview of employment obligations for WA small businesses

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Employee / workerEmployer

This page tells Western Australian small business employers about:

  • the two systems of employment law that operate in Western Australia and how to determine which one covers your business; and
  • where to find more information on pay rates and employment obligations for your employees so that you comply with your legal obligations as an employer.

Two different industrial relations systems operate in WA, the state system and the national fair work system. The two systems have different employment obligations. Which of these two systems covers a particular business depends on the type of business structure. 

wa_image_small.jpg State system

The state system covers businesses and organisations (and their employees) that operate as:

  • sole traders (e.g. Jane Smith trading as Jane’s Café)
  • unincorporated partnerships (e.g. Jane and Bob Smith trading as Jane’s Café)
  • unincorporated trust arrangements (Jane and Bob Smith as trustees for the Smith Family Trust trading as Jane’s Café)
  • incorporated associations and other not-for-profit organisations that are not trading or financial corporations.

australia_image_small.jpg National system

The national system covers businesses and organisations (and their employees) that operate as:

  • Pty Ltd businesses that are trading or financial corporations (e.g. Smith Pty Ltd trading as Jane’s Café)
  • incorporated partnerships (e.g. Smith Pty Ltd and Bob Smith trading as Jane's Café)
  • incorporated trust arrangements (e.g. Smith Pty Ltd as trustee for the Smith Family Trust trading as Jane's Café)
  • incorporated associations and other not-for-profit organisations that are trading or financial corporations.

question_mark_icon.jpg If you are not sure which system covers your business:

  • contact Wageline on 1300 655 266
  • provide the name of the business or ABN and Wageline can assist with a business search over the phone

Employment obligations in WA - Pay rates

Many industries and occupations are covered by are covered by an ‘award’ which is a formal document which sets the pay rates, working hours and other employment arrangements specifically for that industry or occupation.  Different awards will cover your business and your employees based on whether your business is in the state or national industrial relations system. 

An award applies automatically if your business and your employees are in the right industry or occupation, and the award applies to all employees in relevant industry or occupation, including junior employees, workers on visas, workers in regional areas, and full time part time and casual employees. When your employees are covered by an award, you are required by law to the correct pay rates, including any penalty rates (higher pay rates) for working weekends or overtime. 

If the industry or occupation is not covered by an award, you will be required to pay employees at least the minimum rate of pay.  Minimum rates of apply to junior employees, workers on visas, workers in regional areas, and full time, part time and casual employees. 

  • Employers in the state system can find WA award and minimum rate of pay information on the Wageline website or can contact Wageline on 1300 655 266.
  • Employers in the national system can find award and minimum rate of pay information on the Fair Work Ombudsman website

Employment rights in WA - Leave entitlements

When an employee starts work in your business, you should tell the employee whether the job is full time, part time or casual. Full time and part time employees usually work a set number of hours a week and must receive paid annual leave and paid sick and carer’s leave.  Casual employees usually work a roster that changes each week, and receive a casual loading (a higher pay rate) but do not get paid annual or sick leave.  

Full time, part time and casual employees all have an entitlement to paid long service leave, which may apply if the employee resigns or is dismissed after seven years of employment. 

  • For employees in the state system information on leave entitlements is available on the Wageline website
  • For employees in the national system information on annual leave, sick leave and other leave entitlements (except long service leave) is on the Fair Work Ombudsman website and long service leave information is on the long service leave page of the Wageline website.

Employment rights in WA – Superannuation

Most employees are entitled to superannuation. Superannuation must be paid by the employer direct to the employee’s nominated superannuation fund. Visit the Australian Taxation Office website www.ato.gov.au for information on superannuation entitlements.

Where to get more information

wa_image_small.jpg State system employers

  • Visit the Wageline website for information on your obligations on rates of pay, working hours and leave entitlements or call Wageline on 1300 655 266. 
  • Visit the Long service leave page of the Wageline website for information on long service leave.

australia_image_small.jpg National system employers

  • Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for information on your obligations on rates of pay, working hours and leave entitlements, except for long service leave.
  • Visit the Long service leave page of the Wageline website for information on long service leave.

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