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Staffing and Employment Law for Businesses in Australia

Employment law in Australia can differ greatly from that of overseas countries. As such, it is imperative that you seek expert advice to avoid unintentional illegal behaviour.

For a detailed overview of Australian Employment Law, please read our pages regarding Fair Trading & Trade Practices, Occupational Health & Safety, Anti-Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity policies.

Staffing people in Australia can be a complex task with many obligations, but is often the only way to achieve business growth. Each staffing method provides people with different skills, levels of interest in your business, and availability to work. The cost, plus your legal and administrative obligations for each type of staffing, will vary.

In Australia, there are two common ways of staffing:


Employees are generally individuals who perform work, under the direction and control of their employer, on an ongoing basis. In Australia, the federal government’s Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) covers employees and businesses in each state. An employer has the obligation to comply with these employment legal requirements, such as those created by the National Employment Standards (e.g. to provide paid sick, carer’s, annual and other kinds of paid and unpaid leave).

Employees usually:

  • Get payment as wages with tax taken out by their employer, and have their superannuation paid for them
  • Are based at your business, work at home, or are mobile e.g. a sales representative
  • Use your equipment
  • Can be full-time, part-time, apprentices, trainees or casual, and can be directed when, what and how to do a task

Advantages of employees:

  • An employee is usually an integral part of the employer’s business
  • An employee usually has an ongoing expectation of work
  • An employee has statutory obligations under Fair Work Australia and the Occupational Health & Safety


The entitlements and obligations of contractors differ from an employee in many ways. In Australia, a contractor works under a contract for a specific job or length of time. Contractors have specific skills and equipment you can use for a set time, and once they leave, they take their skills and equipment with them. Unlike an employee, an independent contractor generally doesn’t work regularly for an employer, and can choose whether or not to do a particular job they’re offered. Contractors are often more expensive long-term, but are useful for short-term jobs needing specialised skills or equipment.

A contractor or independent contractor usually:

  •  Doesn’t receive wages but invoices you for their work
  • Runs their own businesses with an Australian Business Number (ABN) and has their own insurance (unless they’re a ‘deemed’ employee, see the Watch out box on this page)
  • Can work for more than one customer
  • Can subcontract their work to others
  • Provides their own equipment

Advantages of contractors:

Independent contractors have various advantages for business in Australia. They provide a business with the ability to outsource the bulk of employer liabilities and administration.. A contractor has:

  • Specialised skills in a particular area
  • Their own equipment
  • No liability for statutory superannuation and payroll tax
  • No requirements for entitlements such as sick leave, annual leave and long service payments
  • Avoid problems with termination under unfair dismissal and other related employment-type claims

What can we do?

Finding the right people for a role or position requires a professional approach. At Quinns, we can help you with all your staffing needs. We have the ability to provide diverse staffing solutions whenever and wherever required, and can you with professional advice about your businesses staffing requirements.

Whilst we have 5 offices located in Sydney, we are also able to meet you at location convenient for you. Additionally, we have web and teleconferencing available for regional, interstate or international clients.

For more information about staffing in Australia, visit our dedicated employment website, All Employment Solutions or contact us by completing and submitting an Express Enquiry form or call us on  +61 2 9223 9166 for more information or to arrange an appointment.

© The Quinn Group Australia Pty Ltd ABN 86 078 526 860

The Quinn Group operates Quinn Consultants, Quinn Lawyers, Quinn Financial Planning and Quinn Financial Solutions. The Quinn Group provides related information in regard to legal, accounting and financial planning issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation* *other than for the acts or omissions of financial services licensees.