WR Series 5: Employee Record-Keeping: Key to Compliance and Employee Entitlements

Richard KrajewskiRichard Krajewski, WR Consultant and Author of Small Business Workplace Relations: A User-Friendly Guide & An Annotated Dictionary of Industrial Relations Terms & Expressions, joins us to continue his exclusive series tailored for general practitioners and small businesses to deepen their understanding of WR obligations. In this piece, Richard shares his insights on the critical significance of record-keeping and documentation, by exploring the multifaceted role these documents play in compliance with legal obligations, workplace health and safety, and safeguarding employee entitlements.



Maintaining records ensures that information is more readily available in times of need. Applying the principle of confidentiality and privacy to respective records of an employee, records are also proof of payment of employee entitlements, WHS matters, training and performance. These records are just as important as the maintaining, up-dating and retrieval of commercial records such as taxation and sales.



In recent years companies – large and small – have rightly been exposed for their failure to comply with respective corporate and legal obligations. Part of this can be traced to the type and level of their record-keeping and attempts of tax avoidance. Likewise in the industrial/workplace arena, tax avoidance and exploitation can be identified with poor/non-existent record-keeping. The matter of wage theft, including the underpayment of wages, has become a major concern across the community.

Not only are employee income records important, but also employee entitlements and management processes associated with performance as well as respective training opportunities. Other areas where record-keeping can assist lie in custom and practice as well as the matter of precedent. Specific issues that can arise within a workplace, and be recorded, include:

  • workplace bullying
  • misuse of electronic equipment
  • drug and alcohol issues
  • harassment
  • discrimination
  • theft

These types of issues require specific attention. Such matters would include investigations, which in turn require appropriate documentation. Attending to grievances and disputes also require proper recording. Failure to do so can result in adverse findings should such matters proceed to a tribunal or court.



A reference to the health and safety environment will see that documentation (and record-keeping) are fundamental obligations and responsibilities for an organisations. Being as important as elements in health and safety or commercial requirements, proper records and documents concerning employee records, should also be diligently followed.

Health and safety matters are legislated for the maintenance of records and the development and implementation of processes including:

  • induction programmes
  • risk management systems
  • injury register
  • injury management plan
  • safe work methods
  • emergency procedures

These are just some of the processes that are part of the record-keeping system for the development, implementation and maintenance of workplace health and safety.

Accordingly, why then should other employee record not be similarly recorded and kept up to date?



Duties of employers are seen across a range of responsibilities directly connected with record-keeping and the access to relevant documentation. For example:

  • provide a safe place of work, e.g., maintain a duty of care
  • assist in a safe system of work and return to work programme; job analysis
  • pay wages/salaries
  • provide work – and therefore maintain records of such work and performance
  • payment of respective leave entitlements
  • superannuation payments



Employees are entitled to have access to their records with the expectation of recognition of their entitlements. Employee records are important matters for employees to be aware off. Note, also requirements under Privacy Legislation (Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 (Cth)).



The Fair Work Act provides an insight into the maintenance of employee records by virtue of, for instance: employer obligations in relation to employee records (s.535) and pay slips (s.536) plus keeping records for 7 years for each employee.  The Fair Work Regulations provide details of content of Employee records (rr 3.31 – 3.44). Keeping false records is illegal. Civil remedies are in place for breaches of such obligations.


You can read more about the essential knowledge to navigate the complexities of record-keeping and ensure a fair and legally sound work environment in the Small Business Workplace Relations: A User-Friendly Guide.

Richard Krajewski’s articles are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication.

Richard Krajewski is an industrial relations specialist with experience across a range of industries, from cafes to paper manufacturing, from small and micro-businesses to large corporations. He has is an Associate Member of the NSW Law Society and holds a degree in Commerce from the University of Newcastle and a Master of Law and Legal Practice from the University of Technology, Sydney. Experience in recent years demonstrated to Richard that while your priority as a small business is making a success of your investments, you often need support and advice in workplace matters.

He specialises in helping small businesses manage their employee obligations and is the author of two books – both now fully-updated second editions for 2023:

Connect with Richard via LinkedIn.