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As of 1 July 2015, there were some changes to minimum wages and threshold amounts that are likely to have an impact on your business.

With the beginning of a new financial year comes another year of changes and challenges. This is always a busy time for business owners and to help make your job a little easier, we are going to highlight three changes to workplace laws that will more than likely effect you as a business owner as well as raise some potential changes on the horizon.

  1. Minimum wage increase

The national minimum wage has been increased 2.5% for 2015. This means the minimum wage has been increased to $17.29 per hour, or $656.90 per week. This 2.5% change has also been reflected in the rates found in Modern Awards so this will affect you if you employ staff on the minimum wage or under a Modern Award and you should ensure that you conduct a pay review to avoid being caught out underpaying any staff.

Award based expense allowances are also adjusted, so you will need to review any Modern Award that applies to your staff and ensure that you are paying at least the minimum amount required for expenses.

 

  1. High income threshold increase

The Fair Work Commission has also raised the high income threshold for employees from $133,000 to $136,700.

This will affect you if you employ staff who earn more than this high income threshold amount. The high income threshold amount includes wages, money paid on an employee’s behalf and any agreed value of non-monetary benefits like laptops and mobile phones. Superannuation, commissions and overtime are not included in this amount.

This means that any staff who exceeded the previous threshold but not the new amount, may now need to be treated with more care if there are any issues with their performance or any other workplace issues as they will now be protected by unfair dismissal laws.

This change also increases the maximum compensation payable in an unfair dismissal claim to $68,350.

 

  1. Changes to employee share scheme legislation

The Federal Government has made changes to the taxation of employee share and option schemes. The key change is that staff will not be required to pay tax on any share options until they sell their shares. The changes are aimed at ‘start-up’ enterprises and to be eligible your business must meet three criteria:

  • Have a turnover of less than $50 million per annum;
  • Be in its first 10 years of operation; and
  • Not be a listed company.

If your business satisfies these criteria, the changes to the scheme may give you added flexibility in creating attractive incentives to entice quality staff to join your business.

Potential changes on the horizon

It is becoming increasingly likely that there will be changes to the Paid Parental Leave scheme soon, and we will keep you updated of this as it happens.

Fortunately though you will not have to worry about any changes to superannuation contributions this financial year, as it has been frozen at 9.5% for the 2015-2016 year.

You need to ensure that you are on top of these changes as failing to comply with them can result in penalties from Fair Work. To ensure that you are compliant with the changes and implementing the best strategies in your workforce, you should review all of your employment documents and procedures, and if you haven’t already, begin pay reviews in line with the changes to the minimum wages.

Should you require any advice on an employment law matter or any other legal issues, talk to the team you can trust at Lynn & Brown Lawyers on 9375 3411 or https://www.lynnandbrown.com.au/contact/

About the author:

Ryan Martin is a lawyer at Lynn & Brown Lawyers.  Ryan has a wealth of experience in the area of employment law and has appeared regularly on behalf of his clients in Fair Work Australia, courts and tribunals.  He also has experience in the areas of commercial law and civil litigation.

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