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New definitions under WHS laws

By CCIWA Editor 

With WA’s new work health and safety (WHS) legislation, common language to define workplace roles has been replaced.

We explain the new definitions.

What does PCBU mean?

The term Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking or ‘PCBU’ has become common vernacular since the State’s WHS laws were released.

Replacing the term employer in the WHS Act, a PCBU refers to:

  • A person conducting work alone or with others.
  • Both for profit and non-for-profit organisations.

The term ‘person’ refers to individuals, partnerships, bodies corporates and associations.

According to the WHS Act, you are not defined as a PCBU if:

  • are engaged solely as a worker or an officer;
  • are an elected member of a local authority;
  • are a volunteer association (where it does not employ someone to carry out work); or
  • are a strata title body corporate responsible for common areas used only for residential purposes (unless it engages an employee).

CCIWA Principal Workplace Relations Advocate Paul Moss says the term is intended to broaden the scope of what defines an employer.

“It’s a recognition that businesses can take many forms,” he explains.

“The simplest way to understand it, a PCBU is the entity which controls the business or undertaking.”

Defining ‘workers’

Under the WHS laws, the term worker replaces employee and like PCBU, is a more encompassing term.

A worker is anyone who conducts work for a PCBU, including:

  • an employee;
  • a contractor or sub-contractor;
  • an employee of a contractor or sub-contractor;
  • an employee of a labour hire company;
  • an apprentice or trainee;
  • a student gaining work experience;
  • an outworker; or
  • a volunteer.

Officers

The WHS laws use the Corporations Act 2001 definition of an officer, which is:

  • a director or secretary of a corporation; or
  • someone who “makes, or participates in making decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part of the business of the corporation”; or
  • a person who has the capacity to affect significantly the corporation's financial standing.

Who constitutes an officer will depend both on the nature of the persons role and the organisations' structure.

For more information on the responsibilities of an officer under the new WHS laws see our Business Toolbox piece. 

For advice and guidance on integrating the new WHS laws into your workplace, contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or advice@cciwa.com.

With WA’s new work health and safety (WHS) legislation, common language to define workplace roles has been replaced.

We explain the new definitions.

What does PCBU mean?

The term Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking or ‘PCBU’ has become common vernacular since the State’s WHS laws were released. Replacing the term employer in the WHS Act, a PCBU refers to:
  • A person conducting work alone or with others.
  • Both for profit and non-for-profit organisations.
The term ‘person’ refers to individuals, partnerships, bodies corporates and associations. According to the WHS Act, you are not defined as a PCBU if:
  • are engaged solely as a worker or an officer;
  • are an elected member of a local authority;
  • are a volunteer association (where it does not employ someone to carry out work); or
  • are a strata title body corporate responsible for common areas used only for residential purposes (unless it engages an employee).
CCIWA Principal Workplace Relations Advocate Paul Moss says the term is intended to broaden the scope of what defines an employer.
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