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Business and Corporate Law, Law Reform

How Your Business May be Affected by Changes to the Law

How Your Business May be Affected by Changes to the Law from 1 July 2018

You may not be aware of them, but there are a number of changes to the law that came into effect from 1 July this year which may have an impact on your business. 

National minimum wage and penalty rate increases

From 1 July 2018, the national minimum wage increased by 3.5%. The new national minimum wage is $719.20 per week for a 38-hour week, or $18.93 per hour.

This increase applies from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2018, for employees on the National Minimum Wage or a Modern Award. Please note that this will not have any impact on employees who are paid more than the new minimum wage.

Also, it is worth noting that there will be further changes to Sunday penalty rates in some hospitality and retail Awards from 1 July 2018, following a decision by the Fair Work Commission last year, which will in many cases represent a small saving to business of somewhere between 10% and 15%, which is good news. 

Single Touch Payroll

From 1 July 2018, the Australian Taxation Office will introduce Single Touch Payroll (STP). If you employ 20 or more employees, you will need to report to the ATO each time you pay them. The information you need to send to the ATO includes your employees’ salaries and wages, allowances, deductions (for example, workplace giving) and other payments, pay as you go (PAYG) withholding, and superannuation.

From 1 July next year the STP will be expanded to include employers with fewer than19 employees, subject to legislation getting through the Parliament. You can access the ATO website to get ready for Single Touch Payroll. 

Country of origin food labelling

From 1 July 2018, if your business grows, produces, manufactures, distributes, imports, or sells food in retail stores in Australia, you will need to comply with the new Country of Origin Labelling laws. These new laws are now mandatory after a two-year transition period. This means food products sold in Australian supermarkets or retail outlets must display the new food labels.

Hopefully this will result in a better disclosure regime for all of us, as businesses or consumers, but this remains to be seen. If you need help to comply, have a look at the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission website for assistance.

Changes to gift card expiry dates and fees in NSW

From 31 March 2018, gift cards and gift vouchers purchased in NSW will have a three-year life. NSW businesses that issue gift cards or gift vouchers will need to honour the purchase if it’s within that period. Gift cards or gift vouchers issued prior to this date are not affected by the changes.

Updates to the national Privacy Act – data breach changes

As you may be aware, from 22 February 2018 businesses with an annual turnover of more than $3 million are required to comply with the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme under the Privacy Act 1988. A data breach occurs when personal information is accessed or released without authority. If the breach is likely to cause serious harm to an individual, businesses must notify both the individual involved and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

The Commissioner has a number of roles under the NDB scheme –

  • receiving notifications of eligible data breaches,
  • encouraging compliance with the scheme, including by handling complaints, conducting investigations, or taking other regulatory action in response to breaches, and
  • offering advice and guidance to regulated organisations and providing information to the community about the operation of the scheme.

A review of the Privacy Regulations did not extend to laying down penalties for breaches of the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, but this loophole may be closed at any time. 

Changes to casual & part-time entitlements in some Awards

From 1 January 2018, the Fair Work Commission made changes to some Award rates and minimum shift entitlements for casual and part-time employees. This means business owners need to pay affected staff the updated rate from the first full pay period after 1 January 2018.

If any of these changes triggers any concerns for you, we are happy to assist your business to address any issues.

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