New IR laws

New IR laws criminalise underpayments. The Federal Government continues its campaign targeting employers who underpay employees according to the relevant employment legislation. Brian Beecroft of the Timber Trade Industrial Association highlights some important changes in legislation.

Commencing January 1, 2025, under new IR laws, intentional underpayments of wages by a business will be a criminal offence.

Employers may commit an offence if they owe money to an employee under the Fair Work Act or an industrial instrument (like an award or an enterprise agreement), and intentionally engage in conduct that results in a failure to pay on or before the money is due. This can include failure to make required superannuation contributions.

A Voluntary Small Business Wage Compliance Code will be established before the changes take effect, and compliance with this code means a small business won’t be prosecuted if it underpays its employees.

TTIA will ensure members defined as small businesses will have some support through this compliance code.

Image: TTIA

Tough penalties

Under new IR laws companies prosecuted face penalties three times the amount of the underpayment if a court can determine it, or $7.825 million, whichever is greater. If the court can’t determine the underpayment, the maximum penalty is $7.825 million.

Individuals can be imprisoned for up to 10 years, be fined either three times the amount of the underpayment if the court can determine it, or up to $1.565 million, whichever is greater; or be both fined and imprisoned.

While the new IR laws arguably seem to be quite heavy handed, particularly in relation to imprisonment, the Fair Work Ombudsman has attempted to reassure employers these laws don’t apply to those who unintentionally underpay their employees, or inadvertently pay the wrong amount due to an error. That remains to be seen, and as an association, TTIA will put the spotlight on any future prosecutions.

In summary, the Fair Work Ombudsman will, once the offence takes effect in 2025, investigate suspected criminal underpayment offences.

These developments once again highlight the absolute importance of TTIA members arranging an appointment with our Legal Officer for an up-to-date TTIA wage audit of all wages, policies, and templates. Contact our office on (02) 9264 0011, or Janet Gilbert on 0414 557 235, to arrange an appointment.

Do you need to record minor injuries?

Members often ask the TTIA’s National Timber Employers Hotline the question, “How serious does an injury need to be before there is a requirement to record it?”

For instance, if an employee suffers a minor cut at work that only requires a band-aid, should the incident be recorded?

Minor cuts that can be fixed with a band-aid are not explicitly mentioned in relevant legislation or in the Workplace Injuries and Disease Recording Standard – AS 1885.1-1990 which sets out good practice regarding injury recording. The wording of relevant workers compensation legislation and the Standard do imply, however, that even minor cuts should be recorded.

The Standard recommends all occurrences should be recorded, including ‘no lost-time’ workplace injuries or diseases – that is, those for which first aid and/or medical treatment was administered. Applying a Band-Aid would be considered providing first aid, so the Standard’s recommendation would be to record such injuries, including while working at home.

if an employee suffers a minor cut at work that only requires a band-aid, should the incident be recorded? Image: Kingsaccess/


Workers compensation legislation contains the relevant legislative requirements. In New South Wales, for example, workers compensation legislation requires employers to keep a register of injuries that is readily accessible in the workplace. The register is a record of any injuries suffered by workers, whether they result in compensation claims or not. This, too, implies minor injuries are not excluded from recording requirements.

Employers can draw up their own injury register; however, it must include:
• The name of the injured worker
• The worker’s address
• The worker’s age at the time of injury
• The worker’s occupation at the time of injury
• The industry in which the worker was engaged at the time of injury
• The time and date of injury
• The nature of the injury, and
• The cause of the injury. Recording minor injuries may help draw attention – and prompt remedial action – regarding sources of injuries. Members should note that even minor cuts can become infected, especially in environments where workers may be exposed to blood-borne pathogens or other contamination.

Reporting and recording

Reporting of injuries is a different matter from recording them.

Injury reporting or notification to WorkCover/WorkSafe is only required in the case of notifiable incidents – those resulting in death or serious injury, or dangerous incidents such as uncontrolled spills, leaks, or explosions. Minor cuts don’t need to be reported unless your organisation requires those incidents to be reported within its own internal safety-management system.

TTIA operates a fully functioning, in-house WHS unit. For any further enquiries regarding workplace injury reporting obligations, please contact TTIA WHS Manager, Ken Hocking, on 0418 280 335, or the TTIA Hotline on (02) 9264 0011. For more about TTIA log on to

Image: TTIA


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