Employer obligations

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    Tax and superannuation

    As an employer, you need to be aware of your responsibilities for tax and superannuation payments. Your obligations vary depending on the status of your workforce and whether they are employees or independent contractors.

    Generally, employers must withhold tax and pay superannuation for all staff. Independent contractors are self-employed and make their own payments, unless they have an agreement with the business.

    Pay as you go withholding

    Find out about PAYG on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

    Fringe benefits tax

    Find out about fringe benefits tax on the ATO website.

    Payroll tax

    Employers must pay payroll tax on wages paid to their employees. This state tax is calculated on the amount of wages your business pays per month.

    Register for payroll tax on the Revenue SA website.


    All employers must make superannuation contributions for their eligible employees as part of Australia's superannuation guarantee arrangements.

    View guide to superannuation for employers on the ATO website.


    Contractors generally look after their own tax obligations, but you will have super obligations if you pay the contractor wholly or principally for their labour.

    Visit your tax and super obligations for contractors on the ATO website to work out your obligations.

    Work injury information


    ReturnToWorkSA is responsible for providing work injury insurance and regulating the South Australian Return to Work scheme. If you operate a business in South Australia that employs workers, it is likely you will need to register with ReturnToWorkSA.

    Work injury insurance protects South Australian businesses and their workers in the event of a work injury. It protects business owners from the full cost of workplace injuries. It provides financial support to cover worker wages, reasonable medical treatment and return to work services to people who have been injured at work.

    Register with ReturnToWorkSA


    Businesses that pay their workers below a specified total remuneration threshold are exempt from registering with ReturnToWorkSA. This threshold amount is indexed and changes each year.

    State public sector agencies and about 70 self-insured employers in South Australia also manage their own schemes but under the same laws. Workers of self-insured businesses should speak to their employer about making a claim.

    Employer responsibilities

    You are responsible for advising ReturnToWorkSA if:

    • your business activity changes - this may affect the amount of premium you pay
    • your contact details change
    • you add new locations or cancel existing locations
    • you are no longer employing workers in South Australia.

    Visit ReturnToWorkSA for more information.

    Reporting injuries

    You can report an injury or start a work injury claim by calling your claims agent, or ReturnToWorkSA on 13 18 55 Monday to Friday between 8.30 am and 5.00 pm.

    You must also immediately inform SafeWork SA of any safety incident or dangerous occurrence in your workplace. Phone: 1800 777 209 (24-hour emergency number to report all serious work injuries and incidents).

    Pay and employment conditions

    Awards, pay rates and conditions

    Find the pay rates and conditions that apply to your employees at the pay calculator on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

    Awards don’t apply when a business has an enterprise agreement or other registered agreement covering their employees.

    The Fair Work system

    Established under the Australian Government's Fair Work Act 2009, the Fair Work system has a number of key features you need to know about as an employer:

    • over 100 modern awards cover most industries
    • review provisions for modern awards
    • a set of National Employment Standards (NES) for all employees
    • the provision to all new employees of the Fair Work Information Statement which can be found on the website of the Fair Work Ombudsman
    • state system employers transitioning into the national workplace relations system.

    National Employment Standards

    The Fair Work Act provides a safety net of enforceable minimum employment terms and conditions.

    Visit the National Employment Standards on the Fair Work Ombudsman website to view the minimum standards of employment.

    The public sector

    Employees in the state's public sector, including most government business enterprises, and in local government remain within the South Australian industrial relations system under South Australia's Fair Work Act 1994.

    Employment records

    A range of information must be recorded and kept for each employee as prescribed by the Fair Work Act 2009 and Fair Work Regulations 2009.

    Visit Record keeping & payslips on the Fair Work Ombudsman website for what employee records must be kept.

    Ending employment

    In Australia, both federal and state laws cover the ending of employment, whether it involves dismissal or redundancy.

    The laws also cover unlawful termination. In any situation, employers need to follow the law closely to avoid legal problems later. South Australian private sector employers and employees operate under national industrial relations laws.

    The Australian Government's Fair Work Act 2009 covers:

    • the whole of the private sector
    • the non-government community services sector
    • private schools and universities.

    South Australia's Fair Work Act 1994 provides that an employee who considers his or her employment was unfairly terminated has a right to apply for relief to the South Australian Employment Tribunal.

    However, the state Act applies only to:

    • the state's public sector
    • almost all state government business enterprises
    • the state's local government sector.

    Dismissing an employee

    To dismiss someone you need a valid reason based on poor performance or conduct. Before taking such action it is worth obtaining legal advice or support from an employer association.

    According to the Fair Work Commission, a dismissal is unfair if it is harsh, unreasonable or unjust.

    Employees working for a small business with fewer than 15 full-time workers can't make an unfair dismissal claim in their first 12 months. The period is six months in larger companies.

    The Fair Work Act 2009 specifies the requirements for a notice of termination and for payment in lieu of notice.

    Follow the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code for protection against unfair dismissal claims to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

    There are tax implications when a job is suddenly terminated. The ATO website has information about an employer's obligations when making employment termination payments.

    Redundant employees

    Employees can be made redundant if their jobs are no longer needed or the business is in financial difficulties. The Fair Work Act 2009 provides for the payment of redundancy pay in these situations and specifies the amounts payable depending on the length of service.

    The Act also describes the nature of a genuine redundancy.

    Unlawful termination

    Workers are protected against unlawful termination.

    Visit unfair dismissal on the Fair Work Commission website for more information.

    Employees covered by the state industrial relations system may also be able to access protection against unlawful termination under the Australian government's Fair Work Act 2009.

    For more details contact the Fair Work Commission Infoline on 1300 799 675.

    Equal opportunity

    As an employer you're responsible for the actions of your staff in their dealings with colleagues and customers in addition to your treatment of employees.

    Employers should consider developing a code of conduct outlining the behaviour expected of staff.

    Learn more about employers responsibilities and dealing with complaints at the Office of the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity website.

    Hiring staff

    As an employer you should focus on the skills and experience you're seeking when trying to find the best person for a job.

    Avoid any reference to personal characteristics - such as age, sex, religion or disability - unless they are part of the requirements of the position or you have an exemption.

    View exemptions in the Equal Opportunity Act 1984.

    Dismissing, retrenching or retiring staff

    Workers who lose their jobs have certain rights under workplace and equal opportunity laws. Employers can find themselves defending an unfair dismissal claim if they get it wrong.

    View employer responsibilities when dismissing, retrenching or retiring staff.

    Related information

    Other websites

    Leave calculator - Fair Work Ombudsman website

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    Page last updated 2 June 2022

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