On 22nd June 2023, the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023 was passed. This has resulted in notable changes to employee rights under the Fair Work Act 2009. We previously posted covering changes to parental leave through the PWE Bill, however there are further changes which are as follows (please note the varying effective dates):
Protection to Migrant Workers – effective from 1 July 2023
There will be greater clarity that a migrant worker including temporary will remain entitled (at all times) to the protections contained in the Fair Work Act regarding wage and employment entitlements.
A breach of the Migration Act 1958 or an instrument made under it does not affect the validity of either entitlement.
Authorised Employee Deductions – effective from 30 December 2023
Employees will be able to authorise an employer to make valid salary deductions (ie. To a health fund) from payments to the employee where the deduction is principally for the employees benefit.
The reform allows Employees initial written deduction authorisation to specify that the amount of deduction can vary from time to time without needing to issue a new authorisation. Meaning only a single written authorisation is now needed.
Right to Superannuation – effective from 1 January 2024
The right to superannuation will be incorporated in the National Employment Standards (NES).
This means that unpaid or underpaid superannuation can be enforced under the Fair Work Act by more employees (as well as by an employee organisation or Fair Work).
It is important that employers are aware of these changes to legislation. If you would like to know more about the changes and/or need any assistance in what steps to take, do not hesitate to get in touch on 1300 1 OUR HR.
Requests for Flexible Work Arrangements and Parental Leave are two of the eleven defined National Employment Standards (NES) that make up the minimum entitlements for employees in Australia.
These entitlements are also outlined in the Fair Work Information Statement that is issued to every new employee when they commence employment.
Other workplace instruments can’t provide for conditions that are less than the NES so it is important that businesses understand their duties and the requirements, particularly as and when changes are introduced.
Requests for Flexible Working Arrangements
There are several changes that will come into effect from 06 May 2023. These include:
Expansion of the circumstances in which an employee may request a flexible arrangement. Will include where an employee or a member of their immediate family or household, experiences family or domestic violence.
increase in an employer’s obligations when considering an employee’s request, with the aim of supporting or improving an employee’s access to flexible working arrangements, and
introduction of dispute resolution provisions that empower the FWC to make orders where an employer refuses an employee’s request, including:
whether the employer has reasonable business grounds to refuse the request, or
where the employer has not responded to the request within the required 21 days
There are changes to unpaid parental leave that come into effect from 06 June 2023. These include:
New rules apply to employers who intend to reject an application from an employee to extend their unpaid 01 July 2023. parental leave beyond 12 months. Employees will also be able to appeal to the Fair Work Commission if they are unhappy with the outcome of their request.
There are changes to paid parental leave that come into effect from 01 July 2023. These include:
The existing maximum 18 weeks’ parental leave pay will be combined with the two weeks’ father and partner pay to provide a single 20-week scheme, which can be shared between parents.
The maximum parental leave one parent could receive is 18 weeks. For example, one parent could receive 18 weeks pay, and one parent 2 weeks’ pay, or both parents could receive 10 weeks pay each, etc.
Employees who are single at the time they claim will be able to receive the full 20 weeks’ parental leave pay.
Claimants will now be able to receive parental leave pay in multiple blocks, of at least a day at a time, up to two years from the birth or adoption of their child.
The means test for eligibility will be amended by introducing a $350,000 per annum family income test. This will mean that there is no requirement for the claimant to meet the individual income test.
It is really important that if you have policies already in place that you update these to ensure they reflects the appropriate requirements and that they clearly outline both the employee and employer obligations.
If you need any assistance drafting policies or adjusting existing policies to conform to the new requirements, do not hesitate to get in touch on 1300 1 OUR HR (68 747)
We are on the home straight to Christmas, a perfect time to share what’s on the Radar for 2023.
INTRODUCTION of Family and Domestic Violence Leave
In July this year, the Federal Government introduced a bill to create a universal (meaning for all employees) entitlement to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave (FDVL) into the National Employment Standards (NES). The new paid leave entitlement will be available to all employees from 1 February 2023. For employees of small business employers (employers with less than 15 employees), the leave will be available from 01 August 2023.
NO MORE pay secrecy clauses
The Government has introduced changes to pay secrecy clauses. The intent behind this change is to promote transparency and encourage gender equality in pay.
All employees now have a right to ask other employees about their rates of pay. This now constitutes a workplace right (protected by the General Protections provisions of the Fair Work Act) under the reforms. This means that employers cannot take ‘adverse action’ against an employee if they ask another employee about their pay or share their own remuneration details with others.
In June 2023 (six months after the Bill passes), it will also become an offence for an employer to enter into a contract with an employee that contains a pay secrecy clause. The penalty is up to $63,000 for an employer.
CHANGES to Sexual Harassment
In September this year an amendment to the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 was proposed with seven legislative changes recommended. These new changes include “a positive duty” on employers to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, offences for having a “hostile workplace” and powers for the Human Rights Commission to investigate and issue compliance notices on business.
We anticipate seeing more refined information being released early next year and the steps that employers must take to ensure they are compliant with these new legislative changes.
NO END to the Hybrid Work Models
2022 has bought up challenges for many employers in relation to both managing labour shortages and the continued war for talent. While many businesses have begun to adopt more flexible work arrangements off the back of the pandemic, these have still largely been finite arrangements. We expect to see more around businesses investigating and adopting Hybrid working models in 2023. These may include broader work from home arrangements, compressed working week, the 4-day working model, job sharing and flexible working hours. This is a definite – Watch This Space!
EMPHASIS on Employee Well-being
This has been a front and centre topic and will continue to be a key focus for businesses moving into 2023.
The focus of employee wellbeing has broadened greatly over the last several years and the shift has seen employee well-being moving from a simple topic for employers – to an all-encompassing overarching embrace across all areas of the business and businesses will need to take the time to understand what this truly means. It is never a one size fits all approach and we believe conversations are key in unpacking this fundamental topic.