5 Key Legislation and Ethical Requirements for Business

Legislation and standards for doing business


Do you know what laws and ethical standards apply to your business?

It’s critical to understand your legal and ethical requirements when it comes to doing business.

Businesses will be subject to different licences and registrations depending on the country, state and/or territory of operation as well as your specific industry. Local regulations may also apply. You can search for the licences and registrations you need in Australia. There are also key laws and ethical standards you may also need to follow.

Here are 5 key legislation and ethical requirements for business in Australia (please note this list is not exhaustive and it’s critical you undertake your own research):

1. Consumer rights and product requirements

You need to know about your customers’ rights and your legal obligations. The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 covers anti-competitive conduct, price fixing, unconscionable conduct and other issues, such as advertising. The Act also sets out consumers’ rights and responsibilities including returns, refunds, warranties, contracts, marketing and advertising.

Every Australian state and territory also has a fair trading regulator that administers and enforces Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Your relevant regulator should be able to provide information on requirements when it comes to:

  • door-to-door sales
  • telemarketing
  • lay-bys
  • pricing
  • online sales
  • unsolicited supply of goods or services
  • proof of transaction and itemised bills
  • handling of uncollected goods.

There are also regulations when it comes to product safety, weighing and measuring goods and importing and exporting. Some products or industries may also be required to adhere to voluntary or mandatory Australian Standards, regional standards (eg. AS/NZS) or International Standards.

2. Codes of practice

There may be one or more codes of practice, codes of conduct or codes of ethics that your business must comply with.

Codes of Practice are voluntary guidelines (though sometimes they may support existing legislation) usually developed by an industry or organisation specifying how they agree to behave as a group.

You should source information about codes that are specific to your industry. You can check out these industry specific fact sheets. You may also like to to consult a peak industry or membership association for your industry.

3. Trademarks, patents, intellectual property

It is important to legally protect your idea, product, design or business identity. Find out more about Intellectual property such as trademarks or patents via IP Australia.

4. Environment

Be aware or your environmental requirements including local water restrictions which may apply to your business. Find out more about environmental management for businesses in Australia here.

5. Privacy

The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) regulates how personal information is collected, stored, used and shared.

You may also need to check the Do Not Call Register before undertaking particular marketing activities.

Anti-Spam legislation is in place so businesses do not send unsolicited electronic messages.

**It is critical you undertake your own research to ensure you meet all of your legal and ethical requirements. Your state or territory most likely has a website with small business resources and further information on regulations, departments and agencies specific to your business. A list of such sites in Australia and New Zealand can be found here. You may also like to check out this Legal Issues Guide for Small Business**

Don’t forget to check out our 5 Steps to Starting a Business.