Hire and manage employees in Australia
Hiring in Australia? Rippling can help your company grow globally without missing a beat—with or without your own entity. Rippling handles onboarding, automates payroll, and calculates and files taxes, all while helping you stay compliant with local laws.
Avg Time to Hiring
Less than 5 minutes
Biweekly or Monthly
Hire, manage, and pay employees
in Australia with Rippling
Onboard Australian employees and contractors in 90 seconds
Set up new hires in Australia with everything they need, from country-specific trainings to 3rd-party apps like Slack.
Pay your Australia team in AUD—in minutes
Pay all of your employees and contractors around the world without waiting on transfers or conversion.
Automate your HR compliance work
Understanding and complying with Australian laws is hard work. Rippling does it for you.
Manage HR, IT, and Finance in one system
Juggling multiple systems for your team? That creates silos and busy work. Rippling does it all—in a single system.
The essential guide to hiring in Australia
Hiring the right employees is crucial to the success of your company—and if you're hiring in Australia for the first time, it’s a daunting prospect. The process can be complex and time-consuming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Australian employment laws and regulations.
In this guide, we’ll take you through the most important aspects of the hiring process, with information on Australian labor laws, classifying Australian employees, benefits, and so on.
Employer of Record (EOR) vs. entity
First, you need to decide whether to hire Australian employees through an EOR or set up your own entity.
- Legal entity in Australia. Setting up a legal entity from scratch usually requires registration with local authorities, opening a local bank account, and consulting with local experts to ensure compliance with tax and labor laws.
- Australian EOR. An EOR is a third-party service that operates on the employer’s behalf handling all the legal requirements for hiring full-time Australian employees, like payroll, contracts, and benefits.
Deciding between an EOR and your own entity depends on your company’s resources, size, and plans to scale. Here are the pros and cons of each:
Cost and implementation
Less time-consuming to set up.
You can start hiring within days instead of months.
Becomes costlier as your headcount increases.
Takes up to six months to set up—and requires registration fees.
More cost-effective once you've hired enough employees in a foreign country.
Quickly set up new hires, often within 1-14 days, depending on the provider.
Supports large-scale expansion in a new market.
Manages all of your compliance work for you, takes on liability, and provides localized employment contracts.
Can't tailor certain policies, and other HR/legal processes, to the needs of your business.
Requires expert knowledge of local laws and tax regulations and internal legal resources, as your company is liable for all legal and compliance infractions.
Can tailor certain policies, and other HR/legal processes, to the needs of your business.
Payroll & Benefits
Quickly pay and insure employees around the world.
Taxes are filed for you.
Must manually keep track of statutory deductions and employee entitlements for every hire.
Once you’ve picked an EOR, you can begin the onboarding process by collecting your employee’s information (including name, date of birth, date of hire, contact and bank information) and Tax File Number (TFN).
Understand the steps to hiring through an EOR in Australia—and learn how Rippling can help you hire and onboard Australian employees in 90 seconds—in our guide.
Classifying Australian workers: employees vs. contractors
Another crucial aspect in the early stages of hiring is understanding how to classify workers. As in many countries, Australia categorizes employees and contractors differently—and classifying them correctly can be the difference between smoothly running your global team and racking up huge fines and penalties.
Here’s an overview of some of the ways Australian law distinguishes between employees and contractors:
High level of worker control. Contractors are generally given more autonomy to determine how to complete the work and when to do it.
More direction from the employer. Employees are generally subject to more control and direction from their employer, who will provide guidance on how to perform the work and may set specific hours of work.
Equipment and tools are owned by the worker.
Equipment and tools are typically provided by the company.
Less integrated. Contractors tend to be independent, they’re more likely to work remotely, and they use their own tools and equipment.
Highly integrated. Employees are typically more integrated into the employer's organization, for example, they may work at the employer's premises.
No entitlement to benefits. Contractors are not entitled to the same benefits, leave entitlements, and protections as employees. They’re responsible for paying their own taxes.
Note: some contractors are owed superannuation by employers.
Entitled to benefits. Employees are entitled to certain employment benefits and protections, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and vacation pay. They may also be entitled to benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid sick leave.
Time-bound engagement. Contractors are typically engaged for a specific project or period of time.
Indefinite engagement. Employees are generally hired for an indefinite period of time.
Risk of loss. Contractors may assume more risk and liability for the work they perform.
No risk of loss. Employees are generally protected from liability for work-related issues.
Non-exclusive services. Contractors cannot be contractually bound to a single company; they can provide their services to more than one organization.
Exclusive services. Employees can be contractually bound to provide services to just one company.
Subcontracting. Contractors can delegate work to be performed by another person or business.
No subcontracting. Employees are expected to do their work themselves. They can’t delegate responsibilities to subcontractors without company approval.
Work permits for Australian employees
Before you can move forward with the rest of the hiring process, you need to be sure your prospective employee is allowed to work in Australia. Foreign nationals who aren’t Australian citizens, and don’t have permanent residency in Australia, need to obtain a work permit. After the visa expires, the holder either reapplies for new authorization or returns to their home country.
Visas for skilled foreign professionals who want to legally work in Australia include the following:
- Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186): This visa allows an employer to nominate a skilled worker abroad who, if accepted, can live and work on that employer’s behalf in Australia.
- Skilled independent visa (subclass 189): Allows invited workers, certain skilled New Zealand workers, and skilled Hong Kong or British National Passport holders to permanently live and work in Australia. Applications resume July 1, 2023.
- Skilled nominated visa (subclass 190): Employers invite prospective migrants to apply for this work permit, who need to take a skills assessment to qualify. If accepted, the visa holder can work or study anywhere in Australia and sponsor some relatives to become permanent residents.
- Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482): Allows businesses to address labor shortages by sponsoring foreigners to temporarily work in Australia for one to four years.
- Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa (subclass 400): Allows a foreigner to perform short-term, specialized labor.
For the full list, and details on how to apply, see our guide to work permits in Australia.
New hire onboarding checklist
Once you’ve verified that your employee is legally allowed to work in Australia, you’re set to continue onboarding them. This is your chance to lay the groundwork for a fulfilling employment relationship early on.
Hint: a successful onboarding experience goes well beyond the employee’s first day, so make sure you’re thinking about more than just payroll and benefits. Here are some things to keep in mind for each stage of onboarding:
Before their first day
- Complete a background check.
- Send an offer letter (more on that in the next section).
- Prepare for tax withholdings.
- Enroll them in benefits (if applicable).
- Add them to payroll.
- Order and configure their devices.
- Schedule their orientation.
On Day 1
- Make sure their workspace is ready.
- Send a welcome email.
- Give them an agenda.
- Schedule a meeting with their onboarding mentor.
- Give them an office tour.
During their first 90 days
- Schedule training.
- Assign work and help them set goals.
- Schedule regular check-ins.
- Seek their feedback on how to improve the experience.
For the full list of onboarding must-haves, see our guide on new hire onboarding in Australia.
What to include in an offer letter in Australia
As mentioned above, offer letters are an integral part of hiring (and can leave a lasting impression). Here’s a basic checklist of what to include in an offer letter—also known as an employment agreement:
- Position, job description, and job duties
- Start date, working days and working hours
- Probationary period
- Compensation and benefits
- Modern Award Coverage
- Vacation leave policy
- Payment frequency
- Termination policy
- Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements
- Contact information
- Non-compete and non-solicit agreements
Learn more about sending a legally compliant offer letter in Australia in our full guide.
NDAs and confidentiality agreements in Australia
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are usually sent as part of the employment agreement. They must include the full names of the consenting parties, a thorough definition of the information that can’t be disclosed, situations where the NDA is nullified, and provisions for maintaining confidentiality after an employee is terminated.
In Australia, an NDA can protect the following information:
- Trade secrets
- Proprietary technology
- Business plans, strategies, and tactics
- Personal information of clients or co-workers
- Any information not intended for public consumption
Read about the different types of NDAs, and their essential components, in our guide to NDAs in Australia.
Running background checks on Australian employees
While you’re probably eager to fill your position as soon as possible, be sure not to skip the background check portion of the onboarding process.
In Australia, employers are allowed to request information about job applicants that is relevant to the position, including education verification, past employment history, and social media checks—as long as the applicant consents to it.
Here are the most common types, and a few other background checks you can consider:
Common background checks
Less common background checks
Working with children
Social media profiles
Learn about the different types of background screenings you can run—and the checks that are illegal—in our guide to background checks in Australia.
Paying employees in Australia
Once you’ve decided whether to use an EOR or your own entity, you need to pick a payroll solution. In Australia, it's important to use a payroll software that is authorized by the ATO to transmit Single-Touch Payroll (STP) data. Rippling is a Digital Service Provider (DSP) certified by the ATO. See the list of certified DSPs here.
You can read more about them in our guide.
Once you’ve picked a payroll solution, take the following steps:
- Ensure your employees are correctly classified.
- Collect employee information, including name, date of birth, date of hire, contact and bank information, and Tax File Number.
- Input the payment amount in AUD—or get written permission from the employee if you’re planning to pay them in a different currency.
- Make sure you’re adhering to statutory requirements when calculating payroll deductions.
- Run payroll.
Since you’re responsible for calculating payroll deductions, you should keep the following costs in mind:
Super guarantee rate
State payroll taxes
Varies by territory
Mandatory employee benefits in Australia
Australia has mandatory employee benefits as well as supplementary ones. It's important to understand what’s required on your part before finalizing the employment agreement. Mandatory benefits include:
- Pension. Australia's pension program, known as superannuation, requires employers to make a minimum 11% contribution (as of July 2023) of each worker's salary into their retirement accounts.
- Vacation and statutory holidays. Full-time employees get a minimum of 20 days (four weeks) of annual leave as well as statutory holidays, depending on their state or territory. This benefit continues to accrue each year, has no capped limits and is payable to the employee upon termination.
- Vacation - Leave Loading. Employees covered by a Modern Award in Australia are entitled to an additional bonus payment of 17.5% of their base pay when using their statutory 20 days of annual leave.
- Workers compensation. Australian employers must buy insurance to cover employees who get sick or injured on the job.
- Sick and compassionate leave. Full-time employees are allowed 10 days of “personal leave” per year, which can be used if they fall ill or need to care for a family member who falls ill. They can also get up to two days of paid “compassionate” leave, as needed, if a family member dies or terminally ill.
- Parental leave. Employees who are the primary carers of newborn or adopted children may be entitled to up to 20 weeks of parental leave, paid at the national minimum wage. This is a government-managed entitlement; the employer administers the funds. Employees are also entitled to 12 months of Parental Leave without pay, with a right to request an additional 12 months of unpaid leave.
- Long service leave. Employees who stay with the same company for 7 to 10 years earn two to three months of paid leave, depending on the jurisdiction.
Read our full guide on meeting statutory requirements—and how to go above and beyond when offering benefits to your Australian employees.
Managing remote employees’ computers and apps
You need to make sure your Australian employees are set up with all the apps, tools, and integrations your company uses—and that you can manage them. But remote work has created new logistical problems around device management: from shipping devices to configuring and updating them from afar.
- You can quickly set up and secure employees’ accounts, ensuring all your employees have the access and permissions they need.
- You have a single place to set up, manage, and disable all employee apps—like Google Workspace and Slack.
Learn more about setting up and managing remote employee devices in our guide.
Protecting company IP in Australia
Giving new employees access to apps and sensitive company information can put you at risk—if you don’t take the proper precautions. To protect your company’s original ideas, make sure to clarify IP protections in the employee agreement. This can include who owns the IP created by the employee, who has the right to use it for commercial purposes, confidentiality agreements for trade secrets, and more.
IP Australia, a government agency, administers rights and legislation for the following:
- Trademarks: used to protect and distinguish a company’s brand.
- Patent protection: can protect third parties from profiting off an invention.
- Design rights: used to secure industrial design rights to protect the appearance of commercial products.
Read more about intellectual property protections in our beginner’s guide to IP ownership and rights in Australia.
Complying with Australian labor laws
One of the most important moving parts when hiring Australian employees is ensuring you’re in compliance with Australian labor laws. Failure to do so can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and penalties.
Read more about the most important regulations to keep in mind when hiring in Australia, including:
- Australian employees are offered 11 minimum benefits under the NES, including maximum weekly hours, public holidays, and different types of paid leave entitlements.
- Modern Awards a large number of employees are covered by Modern Awards or Enterprise Bargaining agreements. These are legal documents outlining the minimum entitlements for employees over and above the NES standards. Modern Awards are categorized by Industry and occupation.
- At-will employment isn’t recognized, meaning you can only terminate an employee without notice in cases of “serious misconduct.” More on that in the next section.
- The onus is on employers to be proactive about responding to sexual harassment through mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and other means of dispute resolution.
Terminating employees in Australia
Employees in Australia can only be terminated involuntarily for unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, or because their job no longer needs to be performed. But employers must establish terms of dismissal in the employment contract, and spell out statutory requirements for notice periods and acceptable reasons for terminating employees without notice.
Full-time and Part Time employees are entitled to a notice period depending on their length of service, detailed in the table below.
Employees over the age of 45 may also be entitled to 1 additional weeks notice dependent on length of service.
Minimum notice period
1 year or less
1 year to 3 years
3 years to 5 years
5 years and above
Note: Non-compliance with termination requirements can be costly. Australian courts can impose penalties of up to AUD 82,500 for companies. Learn more about handling Australian termination requirements in our full guide to terminations in Australia.
Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.