Starting a homecare business is a rewarding experience for many reasons. A homecare business essentially takes care of people so they can age comfortably, including those who are living with a disability.
However, running a homecare business involves a lot more than just this. Like any other business, it requires several legal considerations and registration processes.
In this article, we’ll run you through the process of starting a homecare business in Australia and how to fulfil your legal obligations as a business owner.
I’m Starting My Own Homecare Business – What Do I Need To Know?
If you’re starting your own homecare business, you need to be aware of a number of laws and regulatory compliance requirements in Australia.
For example, consider the following:
- How do I register my business?
- Do my employees need certain qualifications?
- Do I have employer obligations?
- Are there laws that apply to the collection of health information?
We’ll cover each of these in more detail below.
Which Business Structure Should I Choose?
When it comes to the business set up process, you need to ensure that you choose the right business structure. This is because your business structure will determine how your business will run and the level of protection it has moving forward.
There are three main structures to choose from:
- Sole trader
You should choose your structure based on your company’s plans. For example, if you want to stay small and minimalist, a sole trader structure is suitable for you. However, this means you expose yourself to more liability than that of a company.
A company structure is more for those businesses that plan on expanding (in some cases, internationally) and entering into higher-risk transactions. This is because a company structure limits your liability, thereby offering more protection.
Your business structure will also affect the process you need to follow to formally register your business. Let’s go through this below.
Register Your Homecare Business
Before you think about conducting your homecare business activities, you need to register your business.
You can register your business using this Business Registration Service.
However, if you are going for a company structure, you need to register with ASIC. This is a requirement under the Corporations Act 2001.
Usually, businesses will receive an Australian Business Number (ABN) when they register. However, if you’re setting up a company, you should also receive an additional Australian Company Number (ACN).
Both of these are important identifiers of your business, whether this be for registration purposes or tax purposes. So, make sure to keep a record of them.
Get Legal Documents For Your Homecare Business
The next step when it comes to setting up your homecare business is ensuring you have the right legal documents to protect you from key risks.
We’ll go through some common legal documents for business owners below.
If you’re hiring staff to help you out, you’ll need to have Employment Contracts with them. These contracts should set out the roles and responsibilities of both the employer (you) and the employee (your staff).
These include the following standard matters:
- Leave entitlements
- Dispute resolution
- Non-compete clauses
- Confidentiality clauses
Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
As a homecare business, you also want to make sure your inside information stays secure. This is even more important as a business that deals with health information.
Health information is considered highly sensitive information under privacy laws, and therefore attracts stronger protections. We’ll cover this in more detail later.
The key takeaway here is that many businesses invest in a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) so that important inside information stays confidential, and doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
A homecare business is likely to need certain resources and supplies to conduct their business activities. As such, it’s always wise to have a Supply Agreement that records the details of this arrangement in writing.
This way, if something goes wrong in the supply chain, you have something to refer to. Generally, Supply Agreements will cover the products to be delivered, when they need to be delivered, what happens if goods are damaged and how long the arrangement will go for.
Do I Need A Licence To Start A Homecare Business?
If you’re starting a homecare business, you don’t necessarily need a specific licence to set it up. However, your employees will need to be registered nurses if you’re a medical homecare business.
If your homecare business is non-medical, your employees will need to have at least a Certificate III in individual support.
We’ve written more about what licences you may need depending on the type of business you’re setting up.
What Is NDIS?
If you’re conducting business in the health field, you may have heard of NDIS.
NDIS is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and provides support for Australians with disabilities, their families and carers.
Many businesses apply to be ‘NDIS providers’ which offer these support services to NDIS participants. However, these businesses need to comply with requirements set out by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
If you’re an NDIS provider and you wish to operate as an NDIS homecare business, you need to make sure you’re compliant. For example, you need to have appropriate complaints systems and dispute resolution processes in place.
Furthermore, you need to comply with the Australian Consumer Law with respect to the representations you make to your clients.
What NDIS Documents Do I Need?
To capture all of this in writing, it’s wise to have an NDIS Service Agreement so all parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
Your clients will also need to sign an NDIS Consent Form so that they give you permission to share their details with the NDIA.
It can get tricky when it comes to drafting NDIS documents as it is a highly regulated area. Chat to our expert lawyers for an NDIS Provider Consultation.
Handling Health Information? Meet Your Privacy Obligations
In Australia, businesses are held to a higher standard if they collect and handle personal information. Data privacy is taken very seriously, particularly when it comes to health information.
This policy allows the business to remain transparent with customers about how they collect, use, store and distribute their data to third parties.
If you’re starting a homecare business, there’s a lot to think about – from business registration to legal documents. At Sprintlaw, we’re always happy to assist you with your business set up.
If you would like a consultation on your options going forward, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no-obligations chat.
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