As a business owner, you should be aware of the laws that apply to you. If you need advice on business law, you should consult a lawyer.
The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website is a great tool to get you started. It can help you decide which licenses or permits apply to you, and you can also get a tailored business report.
If you need free legal advice, these organisations may be able to help:
Registering your business
You must register your business before you start any business activities. This will include registering for certain taxes, which may include:
- an Australian Business Number (ABN)
- the Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- a tax file number (TFN)
- Pay as you go (PAYG) withholding.
You may also need to register:
- your business name as a trade mark
- a domain name for your website.
Fair trading law
Fair trading laws ensure your business is fair and competitive, and that you inform and protect your customers. It covers things like:
- competition and consumer laws
- codes of practice
- pricing regulations
- product labelling
- displaying prices
- warranties and refunds.
If you need help with fair trading laws, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website has a small business self assessment checklist.
The Privacy Act governs how you can collect and store your customers' personal information, especially for direct marketing purposes.
If you need help with privacy laws, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website has a privacy checklist.
Workplace bullying is when a person or group of people repeatedly behave unreasonably towards a worker. As a business owner, you should be aware of the legal risks associated with workplace bullying and harassment.
For more information, visit Business.gov.au's bullying and harassment page.
Do you know the difference between an independent contractor and an employee? You should be aware of your legal obligations for each.
For more information, Business.gov.au's independent contractors’ decision tool can help.
Unfair dismissal law
The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code maps out a specific process for dismissal, which applies if you have less than 15 employees.
For more information and a checklist, visit the Fair Work Commission website's unfair dismissal page.
Importing and exporting
You must follow certain laws and get the right permits before you import or export products.
If you need advice on this, contact the Department of Home Affairs.
Intellectual property law
Intellectual property laws require you to:
- register your intellectual property in Australia
- ensure that exported goods don't infringe on the intellectual property of other businesses.
For more information, visit Business.gov.au's intellectual property page.
You have many legal obligation if you employ people, including:
- paying the correct wages
- reimbursing employees for work-related expenses
- complying with occupational health and safety laws
- organising workers' compensation insurance
For more information, visit Business Victoria's hiring and managing staff section.
Federal, state and local governments administer environmental protection laws, and you must understand which laws apply to you.
For more information, visit the EPA Victoria website.