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Legal and ethical issues

Legal and ethical issues are a part of any workplace and industry. A legal issue is a workplace issue which is directly related to the law or legislation. An ethical issue is directly related to moral values and judgments.

Legal issues

The hospitality industry has a variety of legislation which applies ranging from protection for employers, employees and customers to hygiene, safety and the environment. Legislation in Australia can either be State legislation (applicable only in the relevant state) or Commonwealth legislation (applicable Australia wide).

Food and hygiene

In New South Wales the preparation of food is covered by two pieces of legislation - the Food Act 2003 (NSW) (as amended) and the Food Regulation 2010 (NSW). Both pieces of legislation are designed to protect consumers and to provide food handlers with guidelines on how to handle and prepare food. Some key points of this legislation are:

Occupational health and safety

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) has replaced the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (NSW) as of January 1, 2012. The main objectives as stated in the act are to:


The Liquor Act 2007 (NSW) and Liquor Regulation 2008 (NSW) provide hospitality establishments with information regarding licensing, where and when alcohol can be served and the legal drinking age. This legislation also states that establishments must practice harm minimisation and the responsible service of alcohol. Any person wishing to serve alcohol must have training in the responsible service of alcohol and be over the age of eighteen.

For further information see NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (external website)


New South Wales also has legislation which governs how our environment is treated. Legislation specific to the hospitality industry is the Smoke Free Environment Act 2000 – No 69 (current version from 7 January 2013) and Tobacco Legislation Amendment Act 2012 (external website). The objective of this legislation is to “promote public health by reducing exposure to tobacco and other smoke in enclosed public places”. This act affects the hospitality industry as it applies to cafés, restaurants, clubs and pubs.


As with the service of alcohol, there are rules that oversee the use of gaming machines. The objective of the Gaming Machines Act 2001 (NSW), the Gaming Machines Regulation 2002 (NSW) and Gambling Legislation Amendment (Responsible Gambling) Act 1999 is to minimise the harm associated with the misuse and abuse of gaming and the responsible conduct of gambling. As with the service of alcohol, anyone wishing to working in the area of gaming must be trained in the responsible service of gaming and over the age of eighteen.

Workers compensation

The workers compensation system operates under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998. Go to the WorkCover (external website) website for further information

Objectives of this act include:

Consumer protection and trade practices

Consumer protection and trade practices are governed by both state and commonwealth legislation. In NSW The Fair Trading Act 1987 No 68 is in place to protect the rights of consumers and ensure they are receiving a product which is safe as described and complete with product information.

On 1 January 2011 the Trade Practices Act 1974 was renamed the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and is responsible for promoting competition and fair and equitable trading as well as protecting customers.

Workplace relations

From 1 January 2010 a national workplace relations system was created which includes all private sector employment.

Employers and employees were previously covered by state industrial relations systems but are now covered by the national industrial relations system established by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

Employers and employees in the national system have the same workplace rights and obligations, regardless of the state they work in. Features of the national industrial relations system include:

Modern awards, together with the NES and the national minimum wage order, make up a new safety net for employees covered by the national workplace relations system.

For further information go to Fair Work Australia (external website)

Anti discrimination

NSW has legislation which aims to protect employers, employees and consumers from discrimination. The main act which covers all forms of discrimination is the Anti-discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) (as amended). This act protects people from discrimination based on gender, sexuality, marital status, race, and religion. Other anti-discrimination acts include:


The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) legislates how personal information is collected and used, disclosed and secured in the public arena.

Ethical issues

Ethical issues are related to moral judgments and principles which govern our sense of right and wrong. The ethical issues related to the hospitality industry include confidentiality of customer information, booking, tipping, following codes of practice and conduct, pricing, honesty in product description and tipping.

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