AU-UKFTA Utilisation Series – SMEs Professional Services | 6th September

Courtney Gleeson, Principal Lawyer of Sheltons Group Legal, joined the panel on Wednesday 06 September at the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) Utilisation Series focused on SMEs-Professional Services, organised by Australia-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.

The event was an opportunity for insightful discussions, valuable networking and the exploration of key provisions for the benefit of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Thank you to Australia-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce for inviting Sheltons to be a part of such an insightful event.

 

Sheltons Group Legal – an Australian law firm based in London

Entering the Australian market is a different ballgame – when you compare the corporate requirements of your head office or company location to that of Australia, there are likely to be considerable differences in how a company is required to operate!

Australian company law is an area our clients often have difficulty navigating, usually because they simply don’t have time to become well versed in it when their time is dedicated to running a business. However, corporate compliance is a really important area for company directors and businesses to be aware of. A lack of awareness can lead to liabilities, including personal liabilities, penalties, and generally compromising situations for businesses in the Australian marketplace.

What is corporate compliance?

The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (‘the Act’) is the primary Australian legislation that regulates compliance obligations and standards for both Australian companies and foreign companies that are trading in Australia. Among many matters, the Act prescribes the ongoing legal obligations required of all companies registered under it. Some key obligations include: maintenance of corporate registers; documenting various company decisions, and ensuring shareholder approval is obtained; annual declarations of solvency; filing financial reports; and notifying the public record keeper of particular changes to a company.

Many clients don’t realise that company directors have a duty to ensure that the company they are involved with complies with statutory requirements. Sheltons Group has been working with clients to ensure their company compliance for decades now. We’ve developed streamlined operations to help Australian companies easily meet company law requirements, every day. Sheltons Group Legal can take care of your corporate compliance, allowing you to maximise time concentrating on business activities.

Is your Australian company legally compliant?

If you have any questions about how to ensure your Australian company and business operations maintain good standing in Australia – we welcome you to contact us! We are glad to discuss matters which relate to your company specifically, or in general, and will work with you to ensure your company is legally compliant.

Courtney Gleeson
Lawyer
Sheltons Group Legal (London and Sydney)
C.Gleeson@SheltonsGroup.com

Sheltons Group Legal – an Australian law firm based in London

Under recently introduced legislation, ‘casual’ employees in Australia have been granted a right to request the conversion of their employment to an ‘ongoing’ or permanent position – subject to certain criteria. This enables employees to take advantage of more extensive entitlements that have previously only been provided to ‘ongoing’ or permanent employees.

The difference between ‘casual’ & ‘ongoing’ employment

For the first time, casual employment has been specifically defined in Australian employment legislation as: an employee whose employer makes “no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern”.

In Australia, employment on a ‘casual’ basis carries different legal rights for the employee as compared to ‘ongoing’ employment: a term describing both part-time and full-time workers, i.e. those employed on a permanent basis.

A common example of a ‘casual’ employee might be a warehouse worker whose hours are not consistent or defined by a continued ongoing rota or roster. Conversely, an ‘ongoing’ employee might be administration or payroll staff who work the same agreed pattern of hours or days each week, with an expectation of continued work.

Distinguishing whether someone is a casual or ongoing employee can be blurry in some cases and will often depend on the factual circumstances of the arrangements.

Employers are now legally obliged to offer casual employees conversion to an ongoing position.

The measures introduced essentially focus on job security for employees. Where a casual employee has worked a certain period of time for the same employer, the employer must offer a conversion of their employment from casual to ongoing.

Why is the distinction of employees important?

Failure to classify an employee appropriately can leave employers vulnerable to ‘double-dipping’ claims. For example, where an employee who has already been paid casual loading under an agreement for casual employment later seeks compensation for unpaid leave and other entitlements owed to them as if they were a part-time or full-time employee on the basis that their employer had made an incorrect classification.

Incorrect employee classifications can also lead Australian Government regulators to impose penalties against the employer, and fines to backpay unpaid wages can easily bankrupt small businesses. So, if in doubt, now is a good time to assess the classification of employees in your business.

Sheltons Group Legal can assist you in ensuring your business has the ‘casual’ v ‘ongoing’ employment distinction correct and we would be glad to hear from you!

Courtney Gleeson
Lawyer
Sheltons Group Legal (London and Sydney)
C.Gleeson@SheltonsGroup.com

Sheltons Group Legal – an Australian law firm based in London

The Australian Fair Work Commission has determined there will be Australia-wide increases to the national minimum wage as well as to Modern Award minimum wages. The increases take effect from 1 July 2023.

Each year, the Fair Work Commission (‘FWC’) makes an order that covers subjects including the national minimum wage after considering factors relevant to the economy, employers and employees.

In the face of persistent high inflation, the Government’s federal budget earlier this year urged the FWC to ensure the Australian workforce to which the minimum wage applies does not suffer a wage-price spiral backwards.

Accordingly, the FWC’s Annual Wage Review 2022-23 announced that the national minimum wage would be increased by 8.6% and Modern Award minimum wages increased by 5.75%.

As a result, the national minimum wage has increased from AUD 812.60 to AUD 882.80 per week for full time employees (i.e. employees who work an average of 38 hours each week) – meaning the hourly minimum wage is now AUD 23.23. The Modern Award minimum wage increase means that pay rates above AUD 882.80 per week will increase by 5.75% per week.

Modern Awards are industry or occupation specific and apply to those performing work covered by the Award. As such, it is important to be aware that different minimum wage rates apply across different Modern Awards. 

Approximately 2.6 million employees across Australia are expected to receive the minimum wage increases. It is therefore essential that all employers take note of the increases to ensure each employee is being paid at or above the new minimum rates. Annualised salaries must be sufficient to absorb all statutory entitlements. 

If you would like further information about the Australian wage increases, or assistance in determining which Modern Award applies to your employees – please contact us.

Courtney Gleeson
Lawyer
Sheltons Group Legal (London and Sydney)
C.Gleeson@SheltonsGroup.com

Sheltons Group Legal – an Australian law firm based in London

Is your business about to enter into an agreement or contract governed by Australian law?

It is really imperative that you are aware of the key terms and obligations that you’re committing to – and that you understand if what you are agreeing to is standard practice.

It is often the case that laws governing certain commercial arrangements in Australia are significantly different from those ordinary in the jurisdiction you are familiar with. Standard agreements that you may regularly adapt and use for business in other countries may not be suitable or enforceable in Australia.

Australian shareholder agreements, business acquisition or sale documentation, commercial property leases and agreements relating to the supply of products or services with others may be governed by national legislation, or by state-based laws and regulations depending on where the contracting parties might physically be located or where services are generated.

Sheltons Group Legal can review and advise on agreement terms before you proceed with any commitments.

Typically, most commercial contracts and agreements are favourable to the party that has prepared the governing document. It is important not to simply assume the terms and obligations have been included in a fair and equal manner.

Businesses caught in a litigious event usually find themselves in such situations by failing to record the terms of an agreement correctly or because of a laid back approach to entering into an agreement. Having a clear and concise written agreement in place should not just be a business consideration – it’s a must!

Sheltons Group Legal is able to assist with the preparation or review of any commercial agreements or contracts that your business might require. Having a written agreement in place documents the arrangements between the parties and ensures clarity for all. Clear articulation of the terms and obligations is crucial to avoid ambiguity and disagreements at a later date.

Courtney Gleeson
Lawyer
Sheltons Group Legal (London and Sydney)
C.Gleeson@SheltonsGroup.com

Sheltons Group Legal – an Australian law firm based in London

Until recent legislative changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), a director’s resignation was taken to be effective from the date confirmed in a relevant resolution, or simply when the director provided written notice of their resignation.

The ‘date of effect’ might not be what the individual director OR company understands it to be

Previously, the date included on a notice of resignation automatically meant the end of liability, the end of director duties being owed to the company by that individual, and the end of that individual having authority to represent the company. However, a change in the legislation means that carrying out the correct steps with respect to a resignation are now more important than ever. Not following the necessary steps can cause burdensome complications for both the company and the individual seeking to resign from their director post.

Where notification of a director resignation is not received by ASIC (Australia’s corporate regulator) within 28 days from the date that the resignation is proposed to have effect from, the legal and actual date of effect will be the date on which ASIC is notified and NOT the date specified in a notice of resignation or company resolution.

Significance of the ‘date of effect’

What is the date of effect? The date of effect refers to the date on which an individual is legally ceased from their role as director.

If ASIC is not correctly notified within the prescribed timeframe, the individual who purports to have resigned from the position of director will legally still be a director of the company until such time as ASIC is notified. Any attempt to significantly back date the date of effect recorded with ASIC is terribly complicated and can also require a Court Order, which will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

The importance of correct director resignations

If a company is of the view that a director has resigned, or the company has removed a director, but ASIC has not been duly informed within the 28 day time period – that individual is legally still a company director until ASIC is notified. At all times when an individual is a company director, they are not only bound to directors’ duties and may in instances be held personally liable, but they have authority to represent the company, enter into contracts/agreements and make other important decisions representing the company. As you might imagine, this can cause concern and confusion for many parties and doesn’t serve your business’ reputation well from a customer’s perspective.

To avoid unnecessary stress and expense in rectifying a failed director resignation or removal, please contact us to assist whenever there is a change in your company’s directorship.

Courtney Gleeson
Lawyer
Sheltons Group Legal (London and Sydney)
C.Gleeson@SheltonsGroup.com

Doing Business with Australia guide

Doing Business with Australia

The ‘Doing Business with Australia Guide’ website is now live and the hard-copy brochures are currently being distributed.

12th November 2020 – The ‘Doing Business with Australia Guide’ is now officially live and can be accessed via: www.Australia.DoingBusinessGuide.co.uk

The main objective of this Doing Business with Australia Guide is to provide you with basic knowledge about Australia; an overview of its economy, business culture, potential opportunities and to identify the main issues associated with initial research, market entry, risk management and cultural and language issues. We do not pretend to provide all the answers in the guide, but novice exporters in particular will find it a useful starting point. Further assistance is available from the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Australia. Full contact details are available in the guide.

To help your business succeed in Australia we have carefully selected a variety of essential service providers as ‘Market Experts’; Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Dentons Australia Ltd, Informed Solutions, Quest Apartment Hotels, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel and Sheltons Accountants Australia.

The guide has been produced by International Market Advisor, in partnership with the Institute of Export & International Trade, and with support from the British High Commission Canberra and the Australian British Chamber of Commerce.

Five things to know about exporting to Australia:

  • The UK and Australia are very similar. Therefore, if your product or service is successful in the UK, there is a high chance that it will be successful in Australia.
  • The UK is Australia’s tenth-largest source of goods imports and second-largest in terms of services, showing that trade and investment between the two countries remains strong.
  • Australia has avoided recession for 28 years, making it, in recent decades, one of the most resilient and best performing advanced economies worldwide.
  • There are numerous opportunities for UK companies wishing to do business with Australia, such as in the education, energy, healthcare, creative industries, ICT, professional and financial services, and transport and infrastructure sectors.
  • Australia ranks 14th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business Index.

 

Source: Institute of Export & International Trade

Institute of Export & International Trade