Australia Work Culture

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Australia Work Culture 

Australian professionals seem able to blend a relaxed workplace environment with a strong focus on hard work that produces results. Early starts often go with a willingness to work extra hours, fitting in brief breaks away from their desks or screens for their favourite coffee!

Here are some other considerations:

• A relaxed environment does not sacrifice punctuality – Australians start work on time to get the work done … ‘hard yakka’

• Scheduled meetings start promptly and stick to the allotted time. Arriving late means you are wasting someone else’s time

• Emphasis is on ‘team’ rather than hierarchy

• Communication tends to be direct but friendly; opinions are freely given but potentially difficult developments are frequently defused with a joke or mild swear words

• Laws on discrimination and guidelines on behaviour are expected to be applied in the workplace

• Handshakes, a friendly open demeanour and using first names are the best ‘ins’ when initially greeting counterparts for a business meeting

• Suits and dresses are still the norm in the corporate world, with ‘smart casual’ acceptable among creatives. Negotiations also tend to be direct, with everyone encouraged to give an opinion

• Negotiations also tend to be direct, with all levels encouraged to have an input

• In much the same way that Australians like to separate work from family and leisure time, entertaining business clients to lunch or dinner is not typical

Australian Minimum Wage

National Minimum Wage for 2021 is AU$19.84 (US$15.40) an hour, AU$753.80 (US$585.21) each week and is reviewed annually and set by the Fair Work Act (2009).

Probation Periods in Australia

‘Probation periods’ are not referred to in the Fair Work Act (2009) so probation periods, which can range between a few weeks and several months, are contractual rather than legal. Nevertheless, probationers receive the same entitlements as full-time and part-time staff.

Working Hours in Australia

The National Employment Standards (NES) regulates maximum hours worked per week, on average 38 over a maximum of 26 weeks for a full-time worker. A worker can refuse to work unreasonable extra hours and is covered by the Fair Work Act (2009). Daily hours, e.g. 9am to 5pm, can be agreed between employee and employer as long as they come within the permitted weekly average.

Overtime in Australia

Extra hours worked are determined by the number of hours’ staff normally work, or more than the agreed hours outside their normal time span e.g. 9am to 5pm. The employer is entitled to request any realistic overtime as long as it does not compromise the health and safety of the employee. Rates vary according to workplace agreements, but can be one-and-a-half pay for the first three hours and double pay thereafter. The Safework Australia website provides details.

Notice Periods in Australia

There are minimum periods of notice:

Continuous Employment Minimum notice period

One year or less 7 days

1 to 3 years 14 days

3 to 5 years 21 days

Over 5 years 28 days

Employees over 45 years who have worked for their employer for two years, are given an extra week’s notice. Some employment or enterprise agreements can increase the minimum required notice period.

Redundancy, Termination / Severance in Australia

These are covered by National Employment Standards (NES). Employers must give written notice of the day of termination, with at least the minimum period of notice as per continuous service or give pay in lieu. Redundancy applies when a role no longer needs to be filled or due to the employer’s insolvency. Redundancy and severance payments depend on length of service up to a maximum of 16 weeks’ pay.

Pension Plans in Australia

There are three layers to Australia’s pension system.

• The first pillar is a public mean-tested scheme financed from tax revenues and is non-contributory from either employers or employees

• The second most substantial pillar comprises individual accounts built up through superannuation funds

• The third layer sees individuals contributing to their superannuation funds or Retirement Savings Accounts

Public Holidays in Australia

New Year’s Day January 1

Australia Day January 26

Good Friday March / April

Easter Monday March / April

Anzac Day April 25

Christmas Day December 25

Boxing Day December 26

Other public holidays such as Labor Day or the Queen’s Birthday are decided by individual states.

Sick Leave in Australia

Sick or personal leave entitlement requires a medical certificate. Personal carer’s leave applies when a member of the immediate family needs support due to illness or emergency. Minimum time off is determined by the National Employment Standards (NES) but contracts or registered agreements can provide for more. Entitlement is calculated on hours worked and equates to 10 days if an employee is full-time and pro rata for part timers. It is paid at the normal working hourly rate.

Vacations / Holidays in Australia

Annual paid holiday entitlement is four weeks, set by the National Employment Standards (NES). Employment contracts, enterprise or registered agreements can offer more but not less. All employees are eligible except casual workers. Sick leave can replace annual leave. There are no maximum or minimum days that can be taken at any one time, as long as it has been agreed upon in an agreement or contract. Australians also have up to eight national paid holidays plus any extra declared by states or territories.

Maternity / Paternity Leave in Australia

Employees are entitled to maternity, paternity or parental leave for the birth of a child or adoption, with the option of one or two years’ unpaid leave. Employees need to have been working for 12 months. Under Parental Leave Pay (PLP) eligible employees are entitled to 18 weeks’ pay at the national minimum wage rate. A set period of 12 weeks can be taken during the first 12 months after the birth, and 30 working days are flexible time off to be taken within two years of the birth.

Bonuses in Australia

There is no statutory bonus entitlement, which is left to each company and should be part of the employment agreement. According to Salary explorer, on average 53% receive a bonus of between three and six per cent. These tend to be based on individual performances whereas higher bonuses may be attached to company performance.

Car Allowances in Australia

Car allowances are a typical incentive offered to employees, either reimbursing costs or towards the purchase or lease of a vehicle. Allowances are taxable and usually paid directly into the employees’ bank account, giving them freedom to decide how they will use the funds.

Don’t Suffer Culture Shock! Call us

The complexities of Australia’s tax, payroll and employment laws are part of a business culture that pose questions for your international expansion. Bradford Jacobs remove the mysteries of all these issues – freeing your staff to concentrate on growing your business.