Whether you are thinking of hiring your first employee – or are already engrossed in human resources. Getting the basics right and knowing you are ticking the right boxes will give you peace of mind. And having a process for your new employees is a great habit to get into.

There are many moving parts when it comes to HR, some of which are ‘make or break’ when it comes to the team, individual members and their performance. As the owner, you are responsible for:

  1. deciding who you need
  2. seeking this person
  3. hiring (and getting that right)
  4. inducting and onboarding them
  5. training them so you can concentrate on the stuff you are good at (the ultimate goal, right?)

You’re probably doing this while juggling sales, customer needs, finances, and operational tasks. It can be overwhelming, to say the least.

The focus of this blog is around the actions you should be taking as an employer to ensure you are meeting your obligations, whether you have one person or 400 people.

understand the law

There are laws in place to give employees rights in the workplace. By law, employers are required to follow certain methods and processes in relation to wages, payslips, leave, flexibility and terminating employment.

You also need to understand how to manage PAYG (pay as you go) tax, superannuation contributions and workplace health and safety.

Each employee you hire must be provided with a Fair Work Information Statement. This document provides the employee details on the national employment standards and items mentioned above. You as the employer should be familiar with this document and ensure that you have systems and processes in place to provide these for your employees. You can get a copy of this statement here www.fairwork.gov.au/nes

understand if your industry or occupation falls under a modern award

The modern awards cover off things like minimum wage scales, allowances, breaks rosters, hours of work and overtime. As an employer, you should be identifying whether your business needs to refer to an award. Note that a specific role (Clerical) can fall under an award even if the rest of your business, does not.

If you have an enterprise agreement, you as the company have negotiated with your employee group around work conditions and wages and this is lodged with the Fair Work Commission. Therefore, this would apply instead of a modern award.

You can search for modern awards that may apply to your business by going to www.fairwork.gov.au/awards.

There will be a group of employees who are considered free of any agreement or award. These employees are still entitled to the national minimum wage and National Employment Standards.

Your employee’s onboarding process starts with the offer (and hopefully the acceptance) However, things start getting real when they turn up on the doorstep for their first day of work.

prepare a new starter pack

The ideal new starter pack for your employee would include:

  1. Fair Work Information Statement
  2. Super Choice form (so they can nominate their super fund)
  3. Personal Details form so that you collect their name and address, emergency contact, their tax file no, date of birth and bank details etc.
  4. Tax Declaration Form to lodge with the ATO
  5. Position Description so the employee understands the expectations of the role
  6. a cheat sheet of the key things they need to know in their first week

understand taxation and superannuation obligations

Ensure that you understand your taxation and superannuation obligation that includes:

Chat with your bookkeeper and/or accountant about the above and ensure your payroll and ATO reporting processes are set up correctly to administer these things.

understand your workplace health and safety obligations

Sort out your worker’s compensation insurance (even if you only have one employee). Each state in Australia has an organisation who administers workers compensation insurance. Wherever your employee usually works or is based will often determine where you need to take out the insurance. If you have employees in different states, you will need to take out cover in the state where they mostly work or are based. What you pay in workers compensation is generally based on the wages you pay an employee. See the links below to the state organisations;

As an employer, you have an obligation to provide a safe working environment and like workers compensation, the laws may differ, depending on where you are based. Engaging a WHS safety consultant can assist you in understanding your obligations and an effective way to ensure you get this right. In low-risk environments, it may be as simple as having a small collection of policies and processes, and checklists. Contact us at businessDEPOT if you would like a referral to a consultant.

prepare an induction plan and prioritise

Take the time to prepare an induction plan and prioritise, so that you can spread things over the first day, week and months. We recommend that the induction includes things like:

  • Business overview and sharing of the vision and goals
  • Overview of WHS and safety procedures including evacuation and first aid procedures
  • Tour of the facilities and intros to all the relevant people (maybe organise lunch in the first week)
  • Workstation allocation and ergonomics
  • Policies and Procedures (cover off the core stuff in the first week; things like access, technology and social media, hours of work and lunch breaks, payroll, dress code, bullying, and harassment, code of conduct for example)
  • Training in your systems and processes
  • Regular check-ins along the way, particularly in the first month.
  • Allocating a buddy if relevant
  • Social Activities
  • Info on your culture and people

have a process post probation

Have a process after probation to ensure you can give your employees the best chance at success. These things could include:

  • Regular catchups – at businessDEPOT we encourage all our Managers to have a check-in, every 3 months with their team members. We also encourage the team member to take ownership of this meeting.
  • Mentoring
  • Team meetings
  • Social activities
  • Health and Wellness check-ins

Finally, after probation, think about introducing a performance review and goal-setting process (That is more than yearly) that allows the employee to give and receive feedback but also enables the employee to grow and develop while aligning with the business goals.

Wrapping it up …

The first few months of an employee’s experience at your organisation, are the most important. If your employee is made to feel welcome, they are clear on the expectations of their role and you have ticked the boxes on compliance. You also stand in good stead to have a great journey as an employer and provide a great working environment for your employees.


Originally authored by Anna Chipperfield.