Employers who engage employees under relevant Commonwealth workplace laws are required to:

  • make and keep accurate and complete records for all of their employees (eg. time worked and wages paid)
  • issue pay slips to each employee.

These record-keeping and pay slip obligations are designed to ensure that employees receive their correct wages and entitlements.

What are the record-keeping obligations?

Employee records must:

  • be in a form that is readily accessible to a Fair Work Inspector
  • be in a legible form and in English (preferably in plain, simple English)
  • be kept for seven years
  • not be altered unless for the purposes of correcting an error
  • not be false or misleading to the employer's knowledge.

Employee records are private and confidential. Generally, no one can access them other than the employee, their employer, and relevant payroll staff. Employers must make copies of an employee’s records available at the request of an employee or former employee.

However, Fair Work Inspectors and organisation officials (such as a trade union) may access employee records (including personal information) to determine if there has been a contravention of relevant Commonwealth workplace laws.

For further information on the powers of Fair Work Inspectors entering premises and requiring the production of records or documents, please see the Fair Work Ombudsman Fact Sheet - Powers of Fair Work Inspectors.

For further information on the rights of organisation officials relating to entering premises and requiring the production of records or documents, please see the Fair Work Ombudsman Fact Sheet – Right of Entry.

What information must be made and kept in employee records?

A range of information must be made and kept for each employee as prescribed by the Fair Work Act 2009 and Fair Work Regulations 2009.

General records

General employment records must include all of the following:

  • the employer's name
  • the employer's Australian Business Number (ABN) (if any)
  • the employee's name
  • the employee's commencement date
  • the basis of the employee's employment (full or part-time and permanent, temporary or casual).

Pay records

Records of pay must include all of the following:

  • the rate of pay paid to the employee
  • the gross and net amounts paid and any deductions from the gross amount
  • the details of any incentive-based payment, bonus, loading, penalty rate, or other monetary allowance or separately identifiable entitlement paid.

Hours of work records

Records relating to hours worked by employees are to include the following:

  • In the case of a casual or irregular part-time employee who is guaranteed a pay rate set by reference to time worked, a record of the hours worked by that employee
  • For any other type of employee, the record must specify the number of overtime hours worked each day, or when the employee started and finished working overtime hours (but only if a penalty rate or loading must be paid for overtime hours actually worked)
  • A copy of the written agreement if the employer and employee have agreed to the employee taking time off instead of being paid for overtime worked
  • A copy of the written agreement if the employer and employee have agreed to an averaging of the employee's work hours.

Leave records

If an employee is entitled to leave, the record must include both:

  • leave taken, if any
  • the balance of the employee's entitlement to that leave from time to time.

If an employer and an employee have agreed to the employee taking a period of annual leave in advance of an accrued amount of leave, the employer must keep a copy of the agreement which:

  • states the amount of leave to be taken in advance and the date on which the leave is to commence
  • must be signed by the employer and the employee, and if the employee is under 18 years of age, by the employee’s parent or guardian.

If an employer and employee have agreed to cash out an accrued amount of leave, the employer must keep: 

  • a copy of the agreement to cash out the amount of leave
  • a record of the amount of leave to be cashed out and the payment to be made to the employee for it
  • the date on which the payment is to be made.

Superannuation contributions records

If the employer is required to make superannuation contributions for the benefit of the employee, the record must include all of the following:

  • the amount of the contributions made
  • the dates on which each contribution was made
  • the period over which the contributions were made
  • the name of any fund to which a contribution was made
  • the basis on which the employer became liable to make the contribution, including a record of any election made by the employee (including the date) to have their superannuation contributions paid into a particular fund.

Note: Employers who contribute a defined benefit interest in a defined benefit fund do not have to include these contributions in the record.

Individual flexibility arrangement records

If an employer and employee agree in writing to an individual flexibility arrangement in relation to an award or registered agreement, a record must include both:

  • a copy of the agreement
  • a copy of any notice or agreement terminating the flexibility arrangement.

Guarantee of annual earnings records

If an employer gives a guarantee of annual earnings under the Fair Work Act 2009, the employer must make and keep a record of:

  • the guarantee
  • the date of any revocation of the guarantee (where applicable).

Termination records

Where the employment has been terminated, the records must include:

  • whether the employment was terminated by consent, by notice, summarily, or in some other manner (specifying that manner)
  • if notice was provided and, if so, how much
  • the name of the person who terminated the employment.

Transfer of Business records

Where there has been a transfer of business under the Fair Work Act 2009, at the time of transfer, the old employer is required to transfer to the new employer each employee record concerning a transferring employee.

If the transferring employee becomes an employee of the new employer after the transfer, the new employer must ask the old employer to provide them with the employee’s records. The old employer must give the records to the new employer.

For further information regarding transfer of business, please see the Fair Work Ombudsman Fact Sheet – When businesses change hands.

Record-keeping and pay slip templates for employers

The Fair Work Ombudsman has created various templates to help employers meet their record-keeping and pay slip obligations. You can download these templates at www.fairwork.gov.au.

Record-keeping and pay slip obligations are provided for by sections 535 & 536 of the Fair Work Act 2009 and regulations 3.31 to 3.46 of the Fair Work Regulations 2009.See also section 718A of the Fair Work Act 2009 regarding false or misleading information or documents.

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