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New maximum penalties that courts can impose for certain contraventions of Australian employment laws are now in effect. These only apply to employers who aren’t individuals or small business employers.

These maximum penalties have increased by five times, to a total of $469,500 per contravention for a company.

For serious contraventions, maximum penalties have also increased by five times to $4,695,000 for a company (previously $939,000).

These increased maximum penalties do not apply to individuals and small businesses – generally, maximum penalties for these employers are $18,780 per contravention for an individual and $93,900 for a company.

The maximum civil penalties available for non-compliance with a Compliance Notice have doubled for all employers of any size, to a total of $18,780 per contravention for an individual and $93,900 per contravention for a company.

In addition, from no earlier than 1 January 2025, penalties for underpayment-related contraventions by non-small businesses can be three-times the amount of the underpayment if an applicant chooses this method.

What constitutes a serious contravention under the Fair Work Act has now changed to one done either knowingly or recklessly (it is no longer required to prove a breach was done knowingly and systematically).