5 Things you Didn’t Know About Being an Employer

Employment Law


Being an Australian employer is tough and employment law is complex, keeping on top of all the obligations can be a full time job in itself. Whilst there isn’t enough time for even the fundamentals in our blog post today, here are five things you probably didn’t know about being an employer, from facing mountains of paperwork to seeking legal advice, small business generates some pretty impressive figures.

1. Think small business is small time?


Small business contributed around 34 per cent of private industry value added in 2010-11, or approximately 20 per cent of GDP. They also employed around 4.8 million people in 2010-11, which equals approximately 46 per cent of private sector employment. (Taken from the Small Business Data Card.)

2. Are you a sole trader looking to make that first step into a small business?


There are 5,000 pages of legislation related to employers hiring their first employee, you can find more details at: fairwork.gov.au/about-us/legislation/pages/default.aspx

  5 Things you Didn’t Know About Being an Employer


3. Free trials?


Trials are generally used to find out whether a job applicant is suited for a job. As a general rule, a prospective employee must be paid for any trial work they have performed to establish their suitability for a role, whether they are hired or not.

4. Are you Big Brother?


Whilst it is sometimes important to be vigilant,  there can be no video cameras in toilets, changing rooms or workplaces and surveillance in public areas must be explicitly agreed to by the employee in the employment contract.

5. Think it’s plain sailing ahead?


Businesses with between 6 and 19 employees are the most likely to have experienced a dispute where they took legal action or utilised a third party intervention.  These businesses are also most likely to have experienced disputes overall, with 28% having experienced a dispute of some kind (including routine and easily resolved disagreements). (Based on interviews conducted with over 2,000 Australian businesses selected at random. Read the full research paper at: innovation.gov.au/SmallBusiness/Support/Documents/DisputeResolutionSurveyReport.pdf.)






Ben Thompson

CEO at Employment Innovations (EI)

Ben Thompson is CEO of EI (thinkei.com) and Employment Hero (employmenthero.com), established to provide small and medium sized businesses with the type of legal, HR and payroll services that big business take for granted. He is a solicitor with an excellent success record defending clients in State and Federal jurisdictions, winning several Full Bench appeals. Ask him about employment law, and HR strategy.

Comments (1)
Cathal Uniacke

Cathal Uniacke, Principal OHS Consultant at

Great article Ben! I established Custodian Safety Services an OHS consultancy specialising in providing occupational health and safety related support to SME's that have need professional advice but cannot afford to employ a full time adviser. We provide an affordable solution to the problem. Quite often we work with small businesses that make it over the first hurdles in employment you outlined above only to encounter the next set of hurdles in continual OHS managment when the business grows and production and employees doubles or trebles!