So your business is getting so busy that you need a helping hand? Great stuff. Here's a guide to hiring your first employee.

Congratulations – hiring your first employee is a mammoth step in the journey of any business.

It’s also a risky step. This is a new boss’s guide to minimising that risk.

1. Recruitment bias

The first major risk you'll face on the way to becoming a boss is the potential for allegations of discrimination during recruitment.

In a nutshell, all candidates must get a fair go, regardless of race, gender, religion or age.

You'll also have to be careful with how you word your job advert. 

While phrases such as “seeking a mature, experienced professional” or “join a dynamic young team” might sound harmless enough, according to Human Rights Commission Victoria, they may be seen as discriminatory.

“While phrases such as “seeking a mature, experienced professional” or “join a dynamic young team” might sound harmless enough, according to Human Rights Commission Victoria, they may be seen as discriminatory”

2. Workplace health and safety 

Hopefully you haven’t been working in an unsafe environment even when you were on your own. But now that you’re an employer, under Australian Workplace Health and Safety (WH&S) legislation, you’re legally required to provide safe work premises and to assess and mitigate risks to your employees’ health and safety – even if the office is your home, and even they work off-site.

Keep in mind that WH&S doesn't just include slips and trips; your procedures should also consider issues such as bullying and harassment.

WH&S compliance, injury reporting and licensing obligations vary between states and territories, so be sure to consult the relevant local legislation – Safe Work Australia is a great place to start, and includes industry-specific guides for higher-risk industries such as construction.

3. Pay

Everyone deserves to be paid a fair and decent wage.   They also have a legal right to that – when you hire your first employee there are minimum pay rates to consider, penalty rates and allowances to pay, tax to deduct and compulsory superannuation contributions to factor into your budget.

The Fair Work Ombudsman's website is a good place to start to ensure you tick off all your obligations. 

And while it may seem easier to avoid all this and just work with   contractors, be aware that in the eyes of the law, whether a person working for you is technically a contractor or an employee can be murky, as we've previously discussed.

4. Contracts

Of course you should put together a contract that spells out the obligations and entitlements of both parties.

Many businesses engage the services of a lawyer to help with this process. However, there are some Australian government resources and guidelines you can access too. 

The contract should outline your employee's salary, start date, working hours, sick days, duties, shift penalties and loading, superannuation rate, annual leave and notice of termination requirements – to name but a few considerations.

5. Workers' Compensation 

Workers' compensation insurance is a compulsory obligation in every Australian jurisdiction. 

If your new employee is injured at work, or becomes sick because of their work, your workers' compensation insurance can cover their wages, as well as the cost of their rehabilitation and medication. 

Workers’ compensation is complex, with regulations, premiums and products that differ in each state and territory, and undergo significant changes regularly.

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