The Essential Guide to Compliance in Australian Recruitment 2022

recruitment legislation

Recruitment legislation is complex and ever-evolving. Our employment market is inundated with a mash-up of complex laws and employment awards across a myriad of acts.

It certainly comes as no surprise that many employers are facing immense pressure when dissecting and interpreting legislation. Given the potentially serious penalties of a breach, effective recruiters need to keep abreast of the latest changes.

Not sure where to begin? Here are the seven-recruitment legislation acts that every recruitment professional should know:

1) Fair Work Australia Ombudsman

Mostly governed by the Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA) and the Fair Work Regulations 2009, the Fair Work Ombudsman promotes a healthy workplace for employees, contractors, and employers alike, by providing information and advice on work rights and obligations.

Overall, these Acts are substantial and legally complex, making it difficult for everyday employers to interpret. Failure to comply with the Fair Work Act can result in formidable damage to your business, and there are many such cases in the public domain of household names such as Coles, Woolworths, 7-Eleven, McDonalds, and other well-known recruitment agency brands.

2) Privacy Act

The Privacy Act 1988 is a law that oversees the regulation and handling of private and personal information about individuals – most commonly, individuals’ names, signatures, addresses, contact numbers, dates of birth, medical records, bank account details, and commentary or opinion about a person.

The Privacy Act is a difficult legislation to monitor, given that it delves further into thirteen Australian Privacy Principles or APPs and applies to APP entities (Australian and Norfolk Island Government Agencies).

Breaches in privacy are covered under the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, which is available for us by APP entities as well as individuals when the breach is assumed to cause serious harm to those affected.

Currently, breaches under the Privacy Act can incur a maximum fine of AUD 500,000.

3) Criminal Code Act 1995

You might think, “Why am I mentioning this specific piece of legislation?” The Criminal Code Act 1995 (CTH) is the main piece of legislation relating to federal offences in Australia.

This act encompasses everything we do in everyday life – but as a recruiter, and dovetailing with the Privacy Act 1988, the serious threat to professional organisations is the escalation of cybercrime. If your organisation does not have a focus on this area, then I encourage you to do so immediately. Computer-related offences are a serious threat to any business, either from internal team members or cyber criminals around the world. A proactive approach should be adopted and maintained, including items such as security awareness training for your teams and a technology review of all of your systems and processes. Furthermore, ensuring the appropriate level of insurance specifically related to cyber security is a must-have!

4) Workplace Health, Safety Standards, and the Workplace Health and Safety Act

The establishment of national policies focused on improving work H&S and workers’ compensation across Australia is led by Safe Work Australia.

Businesses and employers are required, and have a legal responsibility, to implement and enforce H&S practices accordingly, covering all employees, contractors, and even volunteers or visitors.

While WHS may be seen as a nuisance and an expensive practice by some, the price of failing to comply with the legislation is even more costly and may include prosecution.

In Queensland alone, there are four categories of offences.

Workers Compensation is specific to each Australian state, therefore, there are several acts across all states, each with its own legislation, and I have provided below for ease of reference links to the relevant state-based acts. Supporting these are other legislative requirements, such as regulations, however, there are far too many to mention here.

5) STP – Single Touch Payroll

In July 2018, the ATO implemented a change in reporting methods, requiring businesses with a minimum of 20 employees to report to the Commissioner on or before each payday using Single Touch Payroll.

Detailed information on tax and superannuation, payment of salary, wages, allowances, deductions, and such will now need to be provided directly from each business’ payroll provider.

The new STP scheme is a critical move to identifying superannuation non-compliance and will allow the Tax Office to implement penalties on employers who do not comply with their superannuation obligations.

6) Payroll Tax

Payroll Tax is a state tax that is calculated on wages, as you, an employer, pay to your employees or deemed employees.

Payroll Tax is a self-assessing tax that requires employers to establish whether the level of their wages paid or payable requires them to register with the respective state government. Each state has its own payroll tax legislation with different rates and thresholds.

7) Labour Hire Licensing

With the commencement of the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017, pioneered in Queensland, labour hire licensing is now mandatory. Full roll outs have occurred in South Australia from August 2019, Victoria in October 2019, and the Australian Capital Territory in May 2021.

Once considered an unregulated industry, the Act seeks to protect labour hire workers from exploitation with any business which uses or provides labour hire connected to these states bound to compliance.

How to Make Sense of it All

The complexity of recruitment legislation has caused immense pressure on business owners and is set to cause a shift right across Australia over the next few years.

Having robust business processes is critical to the survival of your business, and with the success of your business at stake, it is important you have regular and sound advice available to you.

It is no longer just about commercial savviness. Agility and understanding market verticals are critical at this point, and using the right tools – including automation and artificial Intelligence – in your business will ensure sustainability and ongoing success.

Talk to™ and learn more about how we can help. Plus read more about us on the Bullhorn Marketplace to discover how we can manage your compliance and governance.


About Col: Col Levander FRCSA has over 30 years’ experience in the services, recruitment, and staffing industry and in technology. Col started his recruitment career at an entry level consulting role and progressed to Branch, State, Regional and National roles in Operations and Sales working for small niche businesses, National companies, and Global organisations. Col has also started, built, and grown four recruitment agencies over this time. In 2010, Col turned his hands on experience in recruitment to his passion with technology where he identified value in providing an informed technology conversation with real life “Best Practice” experience in the recruitment market sector. Regarded as a contingent workforce specialist, Col continues to innovate with the multi-Award winning expanding from its Australian foundations to international markets in 2023.


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