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New – Proposed Changes to Single Touch Payroll including Jail Terms

The Federal Government has recently proposed legislation which formalises new payroll reporting obligations and which imposes greater penalties on employers and other individuals who refuse to remit PAYG withholding tax and superannuation contributions.

By way of recap:

  • in 2016 legislation was passed introducing Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting
  • STP reporting requires employers to report to the ATO payments such as salaries and wages, PAYG withholding and super information at the same time that wages are paid to employees
  • the legislation requires that all employers with 20 or more employees comply with STP reporting obligations from 1 July 2018
  • for initial purposes, the calculation of the number of employees is to be undertaken on 1 April 2018

However, recent legislation proposed by the Federal Government would require all businesses to comply with STP obligations from 1 July 2019.

The proposed legislation also:

  • grants the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) a suite of enforcement tools, including a strengthened regime of director penalty notices for unpaid superannuation and other tax-related liabilities
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Unfair Dismissal – Are Employers on their Own?

A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission may force employers to fend for themselves in proceedings before the Commission, such as unfair dismissal, by denying them the right to even have legal assistance in the background.

In Stephen Fitzgerald v Woolworths Limited:

  • section 596 of the Fair Work Act requires a party involved in a matter before the Fair Work Commission to seek leave to be represented by a lawyer or paid agent
  • the employer (a national supermarket chain with a dedicated HR department) wished to be represented by a lawyer at a contested unfair dismissal hearing
  • this request was refused, however, the Fair Work Commission stated this did not prevent the employer from obtaining background or shadow assistance from its lawyers prior to the hearing
  • on appeal, however, it was held that the concept of legal representation extends beyond mere advocacy at the final hearing and into the realm of advice and/or the preparation of documents beforehand
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