End of financial year is a significant time for SMEs and with one of the most complex workplace relations systems in the world, it is essential that business owners stay updated and compliant with the changes that come into effect on, or after 1 July.

Here are the principal changes:

Wage reviews and Award updates.

Each year, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) reviews the National Minimum Wage and base pay rates under Awards with changes to be implemented on the first full pay period on or after 1 July.

While there are different base rates for different job types under Awards, each of these stems from one core minimum wage which all businesses in Australia must abide by. Casual workers are covered by this National Minimum Wage, but they must also receive at least 25% casual loading.

Employers must be across any changes and updates to wages and Awards that are effective 1 July 2017.

New Fair Work Information Statement.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has yet to publish the latest version of the Fair Work Information Statement which applies from 1 July 2017. The Statement changes with effect from 1 July each year.

It is a requirement under s125 of the Fair Work Act that a national system employer give each employee a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement before, or as soon as practicable after, the employee starts employment.

The Fair Work Information Statement informs employees about several matters including the National Employment Standards Failure to give the Statement, or the current version of it, is a breach of the National Employment Standards, attracting liability to a civil penalty.

Penalty rates.

A reduction to public holiday penalty rates under some Awards will take effect on 1 July. As for Sunday penalty rates, one of the options proposed by the FWC was to phase in the reductions through a series of annual adjustments on 1 July each year (while the date is not yet confirmed, employers need to be ready) to coincide with any increases in Modern Award minimum wages arising from Annual Wage Review decisions.

If a business has employees covered by the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 (Fast Food Award) or the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 (Restaurant Award), there is a change coming to the span of hours on which the late night/early morning penalty rates are payable.

The FWC delayed the introduction of the changes from March until July 1, meaning it will coincide with the reduction of public holiday penalty rates under the following Awards:

  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
  • Restaurant Industry Award 2010
  • General Retail Industry Award 2010
  • Fast Food Industry Award 2010
  • Pharmacy Industry Award 2010

It is so important for small business to be across these changes. Workplace compliance can feel like a minefield and it is essential to get the right advice to avoid paying too little or too much.

Where to from here?

Employers need to listen out for announcements and visit the Fair Work Commission and Fair Work Ombudsman websites for updates.