Small business compliance is a rather broad catch-all term, but there are some core components to business compliance that affect almost any business owner.

Compliance refers to the tasks you have to undertake, reporting you must adhere to, and rules you must abide by, to be a rule-abiding business in Australia.

Let’s take a squizz at some of the most important and common aspects to business compliance and regulatory adherence in Australia,

Run through this checklist to make sure you tick all the boxes…

Business registration

Make sure you register your business properly according to your chosen business structure.

  • Select and register your chosen business type.
  • Register your business name.
  • Obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
  • Register a web domain.

Tax compliance

Tax compliance is an absolute must for all businesses. Make sure you know where you stand and what you need to do.

  • Register for Goods and Services Tax (GST) if your business’s annual turnover exceeds $75,000 AUD.
  • Familiarise yourself with your tax obligations, including income tax and Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding.
  • Submit annual tax returns to the ATO.

Fair Work rules and employee regulations

If you employ staff, you need to adhere to Australia’s Fair Work regulations. This is important. To ensure all employers provide a fair workplace for all employees, the 2009 Fair Work Act was devised. There are several aspects to this that you must understand and abide by.

  • Understand and comply with the National Employment Standards (NES) These are the minimum employment entitlements that must be provided to all employees, covering areas such as weekly hours, and leave entitlements.
  • Make sure you adhere to modern awards when hiring staff. Awards are industry or occupation-specific minimum employment standards set by the Fair Work Commission. Employers must comply with the relevant modern award for their employees.
  • Make sure you at least pay the minimum wage. Employers must pay employees at least the minimum wage set by the Fair Work Commission. However, an award will always trump the minimum wage.
  • Understand the dos and don’ts of enterprise agreements. Enterprise agreements are are legally binding agreements between employers and employees that lay out terms and conditions of employment. They must meet the ‘better off overall’ test compared to the relevant modern award.
  • Maintain solid employee records. Employers must keep accurate records of employee details, hours worked, wages paid, and leave taken.
  • Know what the rules are around termination and redundancy. You must follow fair procedures when terminating employees or making them redundant, including providing notice and redundancy pay where applicable.
  • Never engage in discrimination and bullying. You cannot discriminate against employees based on protected attributes such as race, gender, or disability.

Applicable licenses and permits

While highly dependent on your particular type of business, there’s a good chance you nee to gain applicable licenses and permits to legally trade or undertake work.

  • Obtain any necessary licenses or permits for your specific industry or business activities.
  • Requirements vary depending on the type of business and location.

Financial records and reporting

Creating and maintaining adequate and thorough financial records, alongside government reporting, is a major pillar in compliance.

  • Maintain accurate financial records, including income, expenses, GST, and tax-related documentation, for a minimum of five years as per the ATO requirements.
  • Keep records of employee details, wages, and entitlements in accordance with Fair Work regulations.
  • Keep all receipts for claiming business expenses.
  • Submit your BAS (Business Activity Statement) as per your regular schedule.

Consumer Law and Fair Trading

There are certain legal matters you must comply with when you run your won business. Many of these fall under consumer law and fair trading, Penalties can be attracted, so be careful.

  • Comply with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which protects consumers and sets out their rights regarding goods and services.
  • Understand your obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act, including prohibitions against anti-competitive behaviour, misleading advertising, and unfair contract terms.
  • Protect personal data in accordance with the Privacy Act, which governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information.

Intellectual Property Protection

Making sure your intellectual property, such as trademarks or designs, are protected and cannot legally be used by others will be extremely important to many brands.

  • Make sure to register trademarks, patents, or designs with the Australian Intellectual Property Office (IP Australia) if applicable.

Seek professional advice!

You should certainly consider engaging legal, accounting, or business advisory services to ensure that you comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

Making sure you maintain ongoing compliance is paramount. You should also be aware that legislation may change, so you need to keep a finger on the pulse.


Reckon does not give formal legal advice – please seek professional legal or business advisory services when ascertaining your compliance.