Same story different year: April 2016 will see a number of
changes made to the law affecting the workplace.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 comes into force on 4
April 2016, and the Employment Standards Bill also proposes a
number of changes, which are scheduled to come into force on 1
At a high level, here are the headline points:
The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is being replaced
with a new Act (the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015) which
brings new obligations, new accountabilities and higher
Parental leave is changing, bringing new entitlements and
concepts, wider application and increased flexibility;
Zero hours contracts will be unlawful, unless contractual and
compensatory obligations have been met;
New (and significantly higher) penalties and enforcement tools
are being introduced for serious breaches of employment
Take a good hard look at health and safety practices and
assess, review and improve. It's not just about having the
right documentation in place; it's about systems and engagement
across the entire workforce. The new law expects 'zero
harm' to be a priority in all workplaces and everyone will be
responsible and accountable (especially those at the top).
Parental leave policies will need to be amended. You will also
need to know about the new entitlements and concepts, such as
"negotiated carer leave" and "keeping in touch
Zero hours practices will need to be reviewed and agreements
amended. If you use these arrangements, you will need to ensure
agreements and practices comply with the requirements set out in
Wage and time record keeping practices may need to be reviewed
and in many cases changed. The Bill requires employers to keep wage
and time records for all employees (including salaried employees)
identifying the number of hours worked on each day in the pay
period and the pay received for those hours. That said, following
the select committee review of the Bill, this obligation has been
'softened' to enable employers to demonstrate compliance if
the employee works his/her "usual hours" and those hours
and pay are recorded in the:
wages and time records; or
the employment agreement, or
a roster or any other record used.
In defining "usual hours" the select committee also
made clear that this will include "reasonable additional hours
worked" in accordance with the employment agreement.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
This WHS decision clarified the interpretation of s 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW).
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