Legal requirements for starting a business in Australia
For every Aussie business, it is mandatory to adhere to certain legal requirements prior to commencing operations. You have to be legally compliant and well aware of all the rules and regulations that are applicable to your industry. If you don’t, you might end up making some friends at the ATO or the police! In every country, there are laws in place to protect both the businesses and the people associated with. Being compliant with these laws will ensure the smooth running of your business and keep it legal. In this post, we will make a checklist of common legal requirements for starting a business in Australia.
Legal Requirements: Let’s divide these up to 10 main headings:
1. Business and Tax Registrations - In Australia, all business owners have to first register their business with the proper authorities and get an Australian Business Number (ABN). Additionally, they have to register for all the taxes that are applicable to their particular industry. The registrations website of the Australian government will give you more information about the taxes, licenses permits, and intellectual property. If you want a unique business name which nobody else can use, you need to apply for a trademark.
2. Fair Trading Laws - For your business to be legal it has to follow fair trading laws. These laws are in place to make sure that you adhere to fair trading practices, maintain competitiveness and keep the customer informed. As a part of the fair trading practice, you need to know about the Australian consumer law in context to your business, comply with the competition and consumer act, Australian standards, and codes of practice. You will also have to understand the nitty gritty of selling goods and services. For this, you need to know about Australian trade measurement laws, pricing regulations, laws related to displaying prices, product labeling, rules concerning warranties and refunds and selling goods and services.
3. Legally Enforceable Contracts - As a business owner, you have to understand contracts, its terms, and stipulations before signing it. When you agree to make a product or render service in lieu of money or any other benefit it is a legal commercial contract. All such contracts are legally enforceable by the law. Failing to meets the terms of the contract are grounds enough for legal action against your company.
4. Privacy Act - Privacy law provides information to businesses on how the personal information of customers needs to be handled. All businesses collect and store its customer's personal information. There are strict guidelines to make sure that such information does not fall into the hands of others. You have to take every precaution to protect your customer's personal data.
5. Bullying And Harassment - There are legal risks associated with bullying and harassment of an employee or a group of them at the workplace. If you want to limit your potential liability it is best adviced to take steps and minimise such occurrences. Bullying tends to put the worker's health and safety at risk and should never be taken lightly.
6. Importing And Exporting - You can't just decide to import or export products. One of the main legal requirements for starting a business in Australia is that no importing or exporting can be done without advice and information from the Department of Home Affairs.
7. Intellectual Property - Any intangible property which is a result of creativity like patents and copyrights is intellectual property. One legal requirement for starting a business in Australia is that you have to register your intellectual property in Australia. Additionally, any goods that you export should not infringe the intellectual property of any other business. Knowing about the legal requirements around intellectual property is the best way to save yourself legal and financial penalties and actions.
8. Employing People - When you employ somebody you are responsible for them while they are at work within premises or if they are doing work outside the office. You bear many legal obligations towards them like paying fair wages, reimbursing them for any expenses related to work, following the guidelines laid down by the work health and safety regulations and codes of practice, and having adequate worker’s compensation insurance. In a nutshell, you have legal obligations for employing people that need to be abided.
9. Environmental Protection Laws - Today, governments are taking strict steps to ensure that all businesses are mindful of their obligations towards the environment. Robust environmental legislation licences and permits are a way to make all companies responsible for their environmental duties. These environmental protection laws are jointly administered by the federal and local governments. Each and every business can play a role in managing the environment. However, the laws of the environment that are applicable to your business depends solely on your business type.
10. Legal Marketing Obligations - Marketing is an essential part of running a business. This is how you create brand awareness and reach out to the public. Quite often, companies use cunning marketing gimmicks to mislead consumers or customers. Sometimes they even use it to misrepresent the product or the service. No matter which ends you look at it, the customer who bears the brunt of this malpractice. When marketing your products or services you need to work within the regulations that govern it. Marketing laws mostly pertain to advertising, spamming, pricing, signage etc.
Starting a business is not easy. There are many things which you need to take care of before you can really get up and running. The legal aspect of starting a business is one of the most important. There is so much you need to know in terms of legalities that you might find yourself confused and frustrated. The legal requirements for starting a business in Australia are many. If you think it is beyond your comprehension, use good legal advisory services in your territory. In fact, there is also a tool called the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) that can come to your assistance. It helps you identify all licenses and permits that are applicable to your line of business. However, a golden rule is to err on the side of caution. It is best to run your findings by a legal advisor so that you do not make any mistakes. Good luck!