It’s as certain as death and taxes when the federal government changes we get new workplace laws.
And so, it was perhaps no surprise that shortly after coming to power the labour government introduced a number of proposed changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). With a flurry of political activity in the weeks leading up to the final sitting day for parliament, changes were drafted, redrafted and redrafted again, such that on 2 December 2022 the proposed amendments were passed in the House of Representatives.
Now while the timing of the commencement of some of the changes will vary, what we do know is that the amendment to the Act includes over 20 changes, which is the most significant singular change to the Act since its inception. Whilst some of these changes are relatively minor and are perhaps uncontentious, there are those, such as multiple employer bargaining, that stand to alter the workplace landscape for many years to come.
As we move into the Christmas and New Year period and as employers and employees attempt to grapple with and unpack these changes we have put together very brief snapshot of some of the changes that employers and employees should be aware of.
The Act will introduce requirements for employers to enter into negotiated bargaining where a common interest exists.
There are specific requirements around this, including the number of employees the employer has and the industry they operate in. For example, employers with less than 20 employees will not be required to participate nor if they operate in the building and construction industry.
The Act will now prohibit pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts. Furthermore, the Act also now affords an employee the workplace right to choose whether or not to disclose their remuneration and conditions of their employment.
Flexible Work Arrangements
An employee will still be able to make a request for flexible working arrangements, however the Act will now grant an employee the ability to make an application to the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate the matter where an employer refuses the request on reasonable business grounds, and the employee is unhappy with the employer’s decision.
Fixed Term Contracts
Fixed Term Contracts will still be lawful under the Act, however the Act will now limit the number of consecutive contracts to two (2) or a maximum duration of two (2) years, for the same role.
Some exceptions to this will apply, including (but not limited to) where the employee earns over the high-income cap for the first year, or the employee has a specialised skill set that the employer does not have, but needs in order to do a specific task.
Want to know more?
The above list is by no means exhaustive and so to assist with understanding these widespread changes, we will be conducting a series of webinars in the New Year. These will be designed to help you understand the changes, how they will impact business (both employer and employee) and steps that you can take to be ready. We will confirm in January but anticipate these to be held on two consecutive Wednesdays – 25 January and 1 February. Two sessions will be required to cover the volume of material. We hope you can join us.
To secure your place at our webinars or for answers to any questions you may have now, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please contact a member of our team for advice on any aspect of the above via 1300 851 430.