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Regulatory and compliance
Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business. Depending on your the industry and type of business, the regulations can be relatively undemanding or incredibly complex. Before entering any industry it is important to get a sense of the specific regulations that apply to you in particular. Always consult a lawyer prior to starting any new business to ensure you fully understand your obligations.
There are a number of standards which apply to all businesses regardless of their size, type or industry:
Business registration and reporting
All businesses must be registered in order to pay taxes and meet reporting obligations. There are a number of different business structures which operate in different ways, including sole traders, partnerships, companies and trusts. Each structure requires some form of business registration in order to receive an ABN (Australian Business Number), additionally, companies receive an ACN (Australian Company Number) and operate as separate legal entities to the directors - this limits the director’s personal liability and means that the company must file a separate tax return.
If a business turns over more than $75,000 it must register for and pay GST (Goods and Service Tax), regardless of its business structure, and businesses with employees will have to pay payroll tax if their total wages paid out exceed their state’s payroll threshold.
All businesses must lodge a Business Activity Statement (BAS) and meet financial reporting and accounting standards. Businesses may be subjected to an audit and are expected to keep records for 7 years.
All employers are required to follow the fair work act and be sure to read it prior to hiring staff. It includes ten employment standards that regulate:
- Hours of work
- Request for flexible working arrangements
- Annual leave
- Personal/carer's leave
- Compassionate leave
- Community service leave
- Public holidays
- Unpaid parental leave
- Paid parental leave
- Notice of termination and redundancy pay
In addition, all employers are required to handle benefits and entitlements, wages, superannuation, long service leave, taxation, varying terms and conditions of employment, occupational health and safety, record keeping, firing an employee, notice for termination, redundancy pay, summary termination and termination payments according to federal and state legislature. Further, all employers are subject to the same legal restrictions on discrimination and unfair dismissal, which apply universally. If you are looking to hire staff, refer to our page on employment law for more information.
Competition, consumer and trade practice law
Consumer protection laws also apply to all businesses and prevent false and misleading representations and provide for mandatory warranties. The first of these regulations prevents businesses from deceiving the public or acting in a way which would be likely to deceive the public, and the second provides for a basic standard in providing refunds, free repairs, replacements or compensation in the event that the goods purchased were faulty or broken.
Similarly, no business is permitted to engage in restrictive trade practices, including anti-competitive arrangements, price fixing, boycotts, misuse of market power, exclusive dealing or resale price maintenance. Read more about these topics on our competition, consumer and trade practices page.
Certain industries and activities are subject to increased oversight and regulation. Follow these links to the ATOs resources on common regulations:
- Importing and exporting: https://www.austrade.gov.au/International/Invest/Guide-to-investing/Running-a-business/Understanding-Australian-business-regulation/Australian-export-and-import-laws
- Business and environment: https://www.austrade.gov.au/International/Invest/Guide-to-investing/Running-a-business/Understanding-Australian-business-regulation/Australian-business-and-environment-laws
- Intellectual property: https://www.austrade.gov.au/International/Invest/Guide-to-investing/Running-a-business/Understanding-Australian-business-regulation/Australian-Intellectual-Property-laws
- Financial reporting: https://www.austrade.gov.au/International/Invest/Guide-to-investing/Running-a-business/Understanding-Australian-business-regulation/Financial-reporting-in-Australia