8 employment law changes you need to know about
Changes in employment law have been coming thick and fast since the Albanese Government came into power. These changes did not stop for the holiday season. And they are continuing into the new year and beyond.
Here is an overview of the changes you need to know about…
On 15 December 2023, the following changes introduced by the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Act 2023 commenced operation:
- Where a non-small business employer becomes a small business employer due to insolvency, bankruptcy or liquidation, it may still be required to pay its employees redundancy pay.
- New workplace delegates’ rights will be afforded to employees who are appointed or elected to represent members of an employee organisation in the workplace. These delegates are entitled to represent the industrial interests of members, have reasonable communication with members and reasonable access to the workplace. Further protections under the general protections provisions now apply for these delegates. Find out more here.
- New discrimination protections will apply for employees experiencing family and domestic violence. It is now unlawful for employers to take adverse action for reasons that include this new protected attribute.
- Compulsory conciliation conferences in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) will apply for protected action ballot matters. To receive the protection offered by a protected action ballot, the mediation or conciliation conference prior to the action must now be attended by the employee bargaining representatives who applied for the protected action ballot order, the employer and any bargaining representative of the employer.
- Union officials assisting a health and safety representative are no longer required to hold an entry permit.
With the new year, we can expect further changes:
- From 1 July 2024, the FWC will have the power to vary modern awards in respect of a model term for workplace delegates’ rights. Workplace determinations and enterprise agreements made (or approved) after 1 July 2024 must include a delegates’ rights term.
- On 1 November 2024, the FWC will have power to make orders with respect to labour hire workers (i.e. Same job, Same pay orders). Once an order of this kind has been made, certain obligations now arise for the host employer. There are exceptions to when an order can be made, including if the order is not fair and reasonable in the circumstances. A dispute about an order can be referred to the FWC. Anti-avoidance provisions apply to these orders.
It doesn’t end there. Here’s what’s coming in 2025:
- On the later of 1 January 2025 and the day after the Minister declares the Voluntary Small Business Wage Compliance Code (Code), intentional underpayment of wages and entitlements will be a criminal offence. There are limited exceptions for these provisions, including where the incorrect amounts are paid by mistake. The penalty can be three times the amount of the underpayment, or $7.825 million for a company or 10 years in prison and a monetary penalty for an individual. These provisions will not apply for small businesses who comply with the Code.
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