On 7 September 2013, the Australian federal elections were held
and the Liberal National Party coalition won a majority of seats in
the House of Representatives. We expect that that the Liberal
National Party coalition will implement a number of its policies
that impact upon employees as follows:
delay by two years further legislated increases, beyond the
increase to 9.25% on 1 July 2013, in compulsory employer
introduce six months' "full replacement wages"
parental leave for mothers whose salary is up to $150,000 per annum
plus superannuation. Fathers will be eligible for two of the 26
weeks as dedicated paternity leave, also at replacement wages plus
superannuation. If the father is the primary caregiver, the father
will be paid the lower of his wage or the mother's wage. The
government will administer the scheme and pay employees directly.
The scheme will be funded by an 1.5% levy on companies whose annual
taxable income exceeds $5 million. The changes are proposed to take
effect in July 2015;
the Fair Work Commission will not be able to approve protected
industrial action unless the claims made will not affect
productivity, are "fair and reasonable", and not
"exorbitant or excessive" having regard to the conditions
at the workplace and the relevant industry;
before the Fair Work Commission can approve an enterprise
agreement, it also will need to be satisfied that parties have
"considered and discussed ways to improve productivity";
the new bullying laws which are due to commence on 1 January
2014 will be amended to require the worker who is claiming bullying
to seek preliminary help, advice or assistance from an independent
regulator before making an application to the Fair Work Commission.
Bullying will also be expanded to cover the "conduct of union
officials towards workers and employers".
The new government may have difficulty in implementing its
proposed amendments until 1 July 2014, when the newly elected
Senators take office as it will, until then, be dealing with a
relatively hostile Senate.
Record penalties for underpaying foreign workers
A Perth cleaning company and its manager have been ordered to
pay a record $343,860 in penalties for deliberately underpaying
foreign workers. The company was fined $286,550 and the business
manager was fined a further $57,310. The six cleaners –
including five foreign nationals from Taiwan, Hong Kong, New
Zealand and Ireland (some with limited English) were underpaid
amounts ranging from $1,915 to $4,554. They worked for the company
for just one to three months between June 2011 and January 2012.
They worked nine to ten hour days cleaning homes in suburban Perth
but were only paid for 7.6 hours. They were underpaid overtime and
penalty rates, leave, meal break and travelling time entitlements
and had money unlawfully deducted from their wages. The company and
the business manager failed to issue pay slips, make payments with
the correct frequency and keep employment records: Fair Work
Ombudsman v ACN 146 435 118 Pty Ltd & Anor  FCCA 803
(12 July 2013)
This publication is intended as a general overview and
discussion of the subjects dealt with. It is not intended to be,
and should not used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any
specific situation. DLA Piper Australia will accept no
responsibility for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of
DLA Piper Australia is part of DLA Piper, a global law firm,
operating through various separate and distinct legal entities. For
further information, please refer to www.dlapiper.com
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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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