All Aussie workers have the legal right to work in an environment that is safe and secure. There are state, federal and common law forms of employment legislation that all protect workers from any and all forms of bullying, harassment and discrimination, and also ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure their safety in the workplace – especially in hazardous environments.
Understanding this legislation is essential for all managers and it is highly advisable that workplace lawyers are called in to educate and inform all managerial staff, as well as be available for consultations in the event of a workplace injury claim or any other similar claim. A failure to provide your workforce with these resources or a failure to provide a safe working environment, leaves businesses at the risk of experiencing expensive lawsuits or – worse – an employee being injured or killed on the job site in an event that could have been easily avoided.
The Proof That Employment Law Is Protecting People
Safe Work Australia is the governing body that compiles data on workplace safety statistics. In their 2021 report, it was revealed that 1.5 in 100,000 workers died on the job in 2020. That is down from over 250 in every 100,000 in 2007 – highlighting that employment law regarding safety in Australia has proven to be highly effective.
Vehicle collisions, being hit by moving objects, falling from a height, being hit by falling objects, being trapped by moving machinery and being trapped between stationary and moving objects were the leading causes of fatalities. These most commonly occurring incidents highlight the need for proper diligence when it comes to employment law regarding safety in all industries where vehicles, machinery and heights are involved.
The Key Legislation That Every Manager Needs To Understand
To have a working knowledge of all employment laws that could potentially impact the workplace, there are five key areas of legislation that should be thoroughly researched.
- The Fair Work Act 2009: The Fair Work System is the key framework of the Fair Work Act 2009 and it includes 11 National Employment Standards, award rates for different industries, the Australian minimum wage requirements, and details on the protection that employees have against unfair dismissals. Most employees are covered by the Fair Work System, although there are some exceptions in different states and territories.
- National Employment Standards (NES): These are the standards that employers must adhere to. The NES guidelines include the maximum hours an employee can work, parental leave entitlements, flexible work provisions, requirements for annual leave, and all other forms of leave including personal/carers, compassionate, family and domestic violence leave and more. These standards also cover termination and redundancy payment requirements, as well as rights for casual workers – including the ability to become permanent workers.
- Work Health and Safety Standards (WHS): These WHS laws were implemented by Safe Work Australia in 2011 and cover the health and safety of all workers. This legislation is highly important to ensure compliance and to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.
- State and federal anti-discrimination laws: There are individual laws at the federal level that are governed by the Australian Human Rights Commission to ensure all workers are protected against discrimination from disability, race, sex/gender, age, sexual orientation, religion and more. There are also separate anti-discrimination laws in each state and territory that every business needs to be compliant with.
- Privacy Act 1988: This legislation is especially important as it is constantly evolving in the digital world. The Privacy Act 1988 now contains provisions for things like digital information and the use of drones, for example.
How Employment Lawyers Can Assist Managers
Although this is a lot of information to take in, being compliant with the latest forms of legislation is vital for business owners and managerial staff working across a diverse array of industries. All of these forms of employment law have been designed to protect your business simply through protecting its workforce. Your employees have the right to a safe and secure work environment where they can feel protected, aware of their rights, and feel safe in the knowledge that they will not be harassed or discriminated against.
If you have any doubt about your compliance with these laws, an employment lawyer will be able to provide complete clarity and help you ensure your business is operating within the bounds of all relevant state, federal, and industry legislation.