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Human resources risks and liabilities

Last updated January 2024

This chapter explains when the actions of human resources professionals can give rise to legal liability and how to reduce the risks.

The human resources (HR) department is often responsible for making decisions and taking action on behalf of the business, e.g. performance management and dismissal. These types of actions can create legal liability for your business, and potentially the HR professional themselves, under:

  • the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act);
  • health and safety legislation;
  • anti-discrimination legislation;
  • consumer law;
  • privacy laws;
  • long service leave legislation;
  • migration law; and
  • workers’ compensation legislation.

Liability under the FW Act

Your business can be held liable if an HR professional breaches the FW Act, including:

  • unfair dismissal laws;
  • the general protections provisions; and
  • workplace bullying provisions.