The end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 have seen many legal
changes introduced and announced, that affect the costs of
employing people, compliance requirements for people managers and
the way employers conduct employee and industrial relations.
As we prepare for a federal election in September 2013 and the
prospect of further changes, it is good to assess whether all of
these changes have been accounted for in your work practices.
The areas of change range from the relatively mundane, changing
'Fair Work Australia' to the 'Fair Work
Commission,' to the significant, such as increases to
After detailed work by the Fair Work Review Panel and 53
recommendations, we have mostly underwhelming amendments to
the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), most of which
commenced on 1 January 2013, with changes regarding superannuation
measures for awards taking effect as late as 2014. Read more
On the superannuation front, besides those
processes coming into play for modern awards regarding MySuper and
the review of funds to be specified in modern awards, there are
changes regarding contribution rates, caps and exemptions including
a general contribution increase to 9.25% from 1 July 2013. Read
On 1 January 2013 'dad and partner
pay', funded by the Federal Government, became
available. Up to two weeks' pay based on the national minimum
wage will be available. Read more
Major changes to the Migration Act 1958
(Cth) will come into effect during the first half of 2013.
The most important change is the new system of 'non-fault'
civil penalties, which may be levied against employers, directors
and managers who allow employees and contractors to work without
the necessary visa. As the title suggests, liability arises whether
or not a person is aware of the worker's unlawful status. Read
Employers can be hit with significant penalties for breaches of
the civil penalty provisions of the Fair Work
Act 2009 and many other federal laws including the
Migration Act 1958. From 28 December 2012, the
'penalty unit' increased from $110 to $170. That amounts to
a 54.5% increase in the penalties that may be levied. Many Fair
Work Act civil penalties are set at 60 penalty units, meaning that
those have increased from a maximum of $6600 to $10,200.
If your business is involved with tendering for State
Government outsourcing or to purchase a State
Government business, close attention will need to be paid
to financing and business planning with the new Fair Work Act
2009 provisions, which give protection to state public
servants of their government conditions of employment. Read more
Did you know that 28 January 2013 was world 'Data Privacy
Day?' On that Day, recognition was given to empower people to
protect their privacy, control their digital footprint and escalate
the protection of privacy and data as everyone's priority. And
so, in Australia, all companies will need to reconsider the
processes for the handling of all personal information to comply
with the new Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) by 12
March 2014. While the exemptions for employee records will
continue, there are a number of new measures that will affect
organisations, including the risk for the first time of civil
penalties being levied for breaches. Employee candidates and
contractors will continue to be regulated under the new privacy
laws. Read more
Following on the back of the passage of the Workplace Gender
Equality Act 2012 (Cth), which introduces new requirements for
employers to report on affirmative action in the
workplace, major changes to discrimination
laws are well on their way, probably during the first half
of 2013. Read about the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012
here and about the proposed new Human Rights and
Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012
Employers should be aware of the implementation of the
nationally-operating Workplace Health and Safety Acts across
Australia: 1 January 2012 for the Commonwealth, NSW, Queensland,
ACT and Northern Territory; and 1 January 2013 for Tasmania and
South Australia. WA and Victoria are not currently joining the new
Companies that supply goods will need to be more aware of their
credit risks due to the increased access employees will have to
recover employee entitlements if their employer becomes insolvent
under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Act 2012 (Cth). Read
Finally, at the end of 2013, 'notional agreements preserving
State awards' (the so-called NAPSAs) along
with federal enterprise awards that are not
modernised beforehand will cease to operate.
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.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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