The Federal Government continues its enthusiasm for change in
the area of labour relations. As employers work through the last
round of changes (Click
here to view an earlier DibbsBarker article for more
information), another round of changes is on its way.
A Bill to amend the Sex Discrimination Act
1984 (Cth) has been tabled in Federal Parliament, to
expand the grounds of unlawful discrimination. Read more
On the proposed re-write of all federal anti-discrimination
here to view an earlier DibbsBarker article), there has been an
about-face by the Federal Government, with the draft legislation
sent back to the drawing board for "deeper
The way people managers handle complaints of bullying, consult
with employees, respond to union requests for entry to the
workplace and deal with the provision of flexible work arrangements
and parental leave may need to be reviewed following the
introduction of the Federal Government's Fair Work
Amendment Bill 2013, which proposes to implement the next
round of amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
The Bill was introduced on 21 March 2013 and referred to a
Senate Committee which is due to report on 14 May 2013, when the
Federal Parliament is due to resume from recess.
If the Bill is passed, the Fair Work Act will be amended to:
Introduce a new anti-bullying complaint
system, which will enable a worker who believes that they
are being bullied to file a complaint with the Fair Work
Commission. Read more
Extend the right to request flexible working
arrangements to more groups of employees. Read more
Provide further flexibility in relation to unpaid
parental leave. Read more
Extend the right of a pregnant employee to
request a transfer to a 'safe job'. Read more
Include new consultation obligations in enterprise
agreements and awards, which will oblige employers to
provide employees with information about changes to their regular
roster or ordinary hours of work and consult with employees on the
impact any changes will have, including on the employee's
family and caring responsibilities. If the Bill is passed, the
changes to awards are expected to take effect on 1 January
Introduce a new modern award objective to protect
penalty rates. The Fair Work Commission will be required
to take into account, when making or varying a modern award, the
need to provide additional remuneration for employees who work
overtime, shift work, unsocial, irregular or unpredictable hours or
on weekends or public holidays.
Change union right of entry rules. Unions will
be able to hold meetings in workplace lunchrooms if an alternative
place is not agreed. The Fair Work Commission will have the power
to make orders if satisfied that the frequency of visits by
officials from the same union would require an "unreasonable
diversion of an occupier's critical resources". The
Commission will also have the ability to deal with disputes
concerning accommodation and transport arrangements for union
officials seeking entry, meaning that employers will be required to
facilitate their access to accommodation at and transport to remote
Following publication by the Fair Work Ombudsman of a very
lengthy report on unpaid workers, we have authored a special
feature about some of the issues that affect employers,
particularly with vocational placements, pre-employment training
and voluntary workers. Read more
Legislation to increase the investigative powers of the Fair
Work Ombudsman to enforce 457 visa working conditions was announced
on 18 March 2013, but has not yet been introduced. Finally, on an
update to our
last article on changes to the penalties for employers who
employ illegal workers, the new laws took effect on 14 March
1Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency
Management, The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP and Minister for Finance and
Deregulation, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate,
Senator The Hon Penny Wong 'New anti-discrimination laws to
cover sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status'
(Joint media release, 20 March 2013). Click
here to view.
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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.
Treasurer Scott Morrison recently announced changes to a number of 2016 Budget superannuation contribution measures.
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