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Employment Law in Victoria

Employment Law in Victoria

Employment standards for work hours, the minimum wage, leave, and other conditions are outlined in the federal Fair Work Act 2009, which covers many Australian workplaces. However, workers’ compensation and work health and safety issues are addressed in state legislation. These state-level laws set out employees’ rights relating to compensation and health and safety at work. Both state and federal laws exist prohibiting discrimination at work. This article deals with employment law in Victoria.

Work health and safety laws

Victoria has its own health and safety laws and to date has not adopted the national framework. These laws apply to most non-Commonwealth workplaces. Your work health and safety rights and obligations as an employer or employee are outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHSA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007.

Other sources, such as the WorkSafe Victoria compliance codes and the Victorian OHS Compliance Framework Handbook, provide guidance on how to put the law into practice. From time to time WorkSafe Victoria also issues policy statements which stipulate how the laws and regulations operate in practice. These laws, regulations, and detailed codes apply to most Victorian workplaces, with the exception of Commonwealth employees.

Work Health and Safety in Employment Law in Victoria

Both workers and employers have responsibilities when it comes to work health and safety. Workers have a duty to carry out their work in a way that does not harm their own health or safety or that of others. As an employee, you have a duty to notify your employer of any work-related illness or injury within 30 days of becoming aware of it. For a summary of the claims process, go to the Worksafe Victoria website.  If you are an employer, it’s important that you understand your duties relating to work health and safety. These obligations include maintaining a safe workplace and ensuring the safe handling of potentially dangerous materials or items. As an employer, you are required to support workers by giving staff sufficient information, training, and supervision to facilitate healthy and safe working conditions. In addition, you need to consult employees on health and safety issues. Under Section 21 of the OHSA, you could be fined up to $265,000 (individuals) or $1,328,000 (bodies corporate) for a breach.

Workers’ compensation in Victoria

A person who sustains a work-related injury in Victoria may be eligible for compensation. Victorian law requires employers with more than $7,500 in yearly payroll to maintain WorkSafe insurance for their workers. Employers are required to do so even if they have only one employee, who may be an apprentice or trainee. The main law for workers’ compensation in Victoria is the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (Vic). This law covers the claims process, eligibility for compensation, return to work rights, and other workers’ compensation issues. The law also sets out the process for using the Accident Compensation and Conciliation Service, which you can use to resolve a dispute you have with your employer or employee. Commonwealth employees are covered by a different law for workers’ compensation.

Victorian bullying laws

Most Victorian employees are protected against bullying in the workplace by the Fair Work Act. State legislation offers additional protection against bullying. Victoria criminalised bullying in 2011. Section 21A of the Crimes Act 1958 outlines what can be considered bullying and makes the crime punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. Making threats, speaking in an abusive manner, or acting in an offensive or abusive manner are some of the things that could be considered bullying under the state law. The Victorian law also includes provisions for internet-based bullying or stalking.

Discrimination and equal opportunity

National laws on discrimination apply to most Victorian employees, however the state also has its own anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws which apply to all Victorian employees (except Commonwealth employees). The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects employees from being discriminated against on the basis of certain attributes and activities including age, sex, gender identity, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, political beliefs, employment activity and physical or mental impairment.

If you are an employee and believe you have been unlawfully discriminated against in Victoria, you can make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, lodge an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or make a discrimination claim in court.

Some of the protections offered by the Equal Opportunity Act also now extend to contractors.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 
Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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